General Questions

  • What is a referral hospital?

    The Foster Hospital for Small Animals is a referral hospital, meaning that the majority of our patients have already been seen by a primary care veterinarian who has recommended an evaluation by one of our specialty services. Although the hospital does provide some primary care, and you can make appointments for patients who have not seen a primary care veterinarian, we recommend that you see your regular veterinarian before considering a visit to our facility.

  • What is a teaching hospital?

    The Foster Hospital for Small Animals is a teaching hospital, where veterinary students at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University obtain their clinical experience. Most of the clinical experience during veterinary school is obtained during the fourth or final year of the curriculum. The hospital also trains interns, who are veterinarians who have recently graduated and are obtaining a year of intensive, supervised clinical training; and residents, who have completed internships and are obtaining training in specific specialties. Residency programs are typically three years long.

  • Are there advantages to bringing my pet to a teaching hospital?

    When you bring your pet to a teaching hospital, you can be confident that your pet will receive the best care our profession has to offer. Because the Foster Hospital for Small Animals trains students, interns and residents, we constantly strive to model the highest possible standard of patient care. The hospital provides your pet with access to internationally known specialists, to highly sophisticated medical equipment and to an extremely knowledgeable and experienced staff.

  • What is a specialist?

    A specialist is a veterinarian who has completed residency training and has passed a board certification examination administered by the national organization of that specialty. Most Foster Hospital for Small Animals faculty veterinarians are specialists.

  • What is a specialty service?

    When you come to the Foster Hospital for Small Animals, you will see a veterinarian who is a member of a specialty service—a group of veterinarians and students who work together to provide care for patients with diseases requiring specialized expertise. Each service is directed by a faculty member, and typically also includes one or two residents, two or three students, and possibly an intern.

  • Do you conduct clinical studies?

    You may be offered the opportunity to enter your pet in a clinical study.

    Clinical studies are research efforts in which veterinarians explore the value of promising new tests or treatments in a series of patients. In many cases, the tests or treatments provided through clinical studies can be provided at reduced cost, or no cost. Often, entering your pet in a trial gives your pet access to a potentially beneficial test or treatment that might not otherwise be available and the results of trials always benefit future animals suffering from the same condition your pet has. A list of our current clinical studies can be found on the Cummings School's Clinical Studies website.

    Some trials are randomized, meaning that some of the animals in the trial receive the new treatment, while others do not, and that this decision is made randomly. If we are conducting a clinical study appropriate for your pet, we will discuss the trial with you thoroughly and you may elect to enter your pet in the trial if you wish. If you decide to enter your pet in a clinical study, you will have the opportunity to sign a consent form that fully describes the trial and any possible side effects that could result from the test or treatment.