The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine (WSU CVM) joined with four other regional universities to form the Consortium of Western Regional Colleges of Veterinary Medicine.
“It’s a way to find areas where we can collaborate and pool our resources to accomplish something together that we would have a harder time doing alone,” said WSU CVM Dean Bryan Slinker.
The consortium includes Oregon State University, the University of California at Davis, Colorado State University and Western University of Health Sciences. The five universities in the consortium have the only veterinary medicine programs in the Western United States, Slinker said.
He said the first goal of the consortium is to create a regional teaching academy to train faculty and share ideas from program to program. Currently, WSU CVM is the only college in the consortium to have a teaching academy. It will strive to develop more effective teaching methods and curriculum to better benefit students, he said.
“This was a natural area to suggest for collaboration across the five western colleges because none of us have the resources we would like to have to support a full-blown medical education group, like many human medical schools have,” Slinker said.
Students are not likely to see changes in curriculum or teaching methods for at least six months, he said. Through the joint teaching academy, the universities will have access to a larger response group of students for feedback on new teaching methods, he said.
“Sometimes (students) might be the subject of an experiment,” he said.
Suzanne Russo, academic liaison for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer Animal Health, said the idea for the consortium grew out of discussions about resource challenges the universities she works with were facing.
“We thought about looking at a region and getting a small number of schools,” Russo said.
She said the universities were approached with the idea and held the initial meeting last October.
The major objective of the consortium is collaboration and sharing resources, she said. For example, veterinary hospital teaching directors can meet and discuss similar issues, such as cost restrictions and solutions to adjusting under new budgets.
Slinker said it is still not completely clear what the full extent of the cooperation between the universities in the consortium will be, but they have developed a framework for proposing ideas.
Slinker said a possible future result of the consortium is sharing online tools between the universities so that all the students in the consortium have access to certain resources, such as distance learning courses.
Pfizer Animal Health has provided logistical support for the consortium but has no active role in the collaboration, Russo said.
Representatives from all five of the universities will meet Saturday to discuss bylaws and membership of the consortium as well as work on plans for the teaching academy, Slinker said.