New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA


The Penn Vet Shelter Medicine and Community Engagement Program has a strong emphasis on education. We teach within the university to veterinary students, dual degree students, undergraduates, and masters students in core and elective content. We also have a focus on community engagement, humane education and science outreach in schools. Veterinary students, undergraduates, and interns also participate in these programs under direct mentorship of our experienced team.

Shelter Medicine Veterinary Student Curriculum

Providing first-rate educational opportunities is a priority for the Shelter Medicine program. Shelter medicine provides key training opportunities for all levels of veterinary students in surgical, medical, and management perspectives, while developing more socially-aware and informed veterinarians.

  • Shelter Medicine Clinical Rotation
  • Introduction to Shelter Medicine Elective Course
  • Student Shelter Opportunities Elective Course
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response Elective Course
  • Other Core Curriculum and Elective Course and Rotation Involvement

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  • Shelter Medicine Clinical Rotation

    Veterinary students can participate in a two-week rotation that includes medical, surgical, and educational training. Students visit most program partner shelters, work with Pets for Life, participate in middle school classroom outreach, learn about humane law enforcement, provide educational seminar opportunities to local shelter staff, complete physical exams and population rounds, learn more about the veterinarian’s role in public health, and participate in rounds on various topics. Students gain valuable hands-on experience by participating in spay and neuter surgeries and performing physical exams with primary case responsibility.

  • Introduction to Shelter Medicine Elective Course

    Penn Vet veterinary students can also participate in a didactic shelter medicine elective during a summer course session offered online. This course focuses on small group discussion and projects which encourage students to model relevant shelter medicine skills. It provides an overview of core shelter medicine concepts. During the course, the students also evaluate primary literature and discuss application in the shelter environment and explore and develop protocols for disease management.

  • Student Shelter Opportunities Electives

    These elective courses allow veterinary students to learn more about HQHVSN (high quality, high volume spay-neuter). Students learn about background and cover course material that utilizes and reflects the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs. They gain exposure to techniques for feline and canine spay and neuter procedures. The course is offered over the second year of the veterinary curriculum to a maximum number of students, where students participate in a clinical skills lab and a mobile unit spay-neuter clinic. It is also offered in a reduced credit online-only option without labs or clinical experience during a summer course session. 

  • Emergency Preparedness and Response Elective Course

    Emergency preparedness and response integrates core professional competencies including communication, collaboration, management, lifelong learning, scholarship, promoting the value of research, leadership, diversity and multicultural awareness, and adapting to changing environments. This course emphasizes the clinically relevant aspects of public health in the context of emergency preparedness. The course is offered during a summer course session online.

  • Other Core Curriculum and Elective Course and Rotation Involvement

    The Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Program is also involved in core curriculum courses including Capstone, Of Clouds and Clocks: Becoming a Veterinary Scientist, Foundational Toolkit, Reproduction and Development, and Hippiatrika: Becoming a Veterinary Clinician.  The Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Program also provides training to Primary Care clinical rotation students through spay-neuter clinics on the mobile unit with a shelter partner.  They also teach for the new Animal Welfare Elective using case-based discussion.


Community Education Programs 

The Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Program places an emphasis on community and humane education as a major part of the shelter medicine curriculum developed for Penn Vet veterinary students. By providing training for humane educators, our students, the community, and the shelter medicine world, these individuals can make a global impact on animal welfare.

Pipeline Program

  • Since 1998, the Pipeline Program has provided high school students from West Philadelphia high schools the opportunities to deeply engage in science.
  • The Pipeline Program goes beyond textbook lessons to see how practicing researchers and clinicians—as well as undergraduate and graduate students at Penn—use science to probe medical mysteries and find answers that have an impact on societal health.
  • The program has a 12th-grade curriculum focused on veterinary medicine led by veterinary student coordinators supported by Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Program faculty and staff. High school students in the program learn about One Health, animal welfare, and other animal-health related topics.

Middle School Outreach

  • The Netter Center also partners with Penn Vet and local middle schools to provide veterinary outreach.  Penn Vet Shelter Medicine rotation students create lessons to get middle school students interested in veterinary medicine and science.

Bridging the Gaps

Other Community Programs

  • Penn Vet Shelter Medicine offers programs for limited consultations, outreach, and programs throughout the city. Please contact us with any inquiries you might have.