Essential Functions of the DVM Student

Essential functions refer to all non-academic criteria that are necessary to be admitted to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, to progress satisfactorily through our program of study and to graduate. In developing these criteria, the veterinary school and its faculty affirm the following expectations of our graduates:

The awarding of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree certifies that the individual possesses a broad base of knowledge and skills requisite for the practice of veterinary medicine. The veterinary medical education process must prepare the individual to be a generalist veterinarian. Therefore, a comprehensive veterinary medical education, rooted in common knowledge, skills and behaviors, is the prerequisite for general practice, as well as for entry into specialized post graduate training programs. Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine must act to protect the health and safety of patients, and therefore must ensure that the Cummings School graduate has the ability to function in a variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.

The acquisition of scientific knowledge must be accompanied by the development of basic intellectual attitudes, ethical professional attitudes and behaviors and moral principles that are essential for a responsible veterinarian to possess.

The goal of our faculty is to produce a generalist veterinarian. As such, every student must complete all aspects of the required curriculum as determined by the faculty.

The following are considered essential for fulfillment of the DVM degree.

A candidate for the DVM degree must have abilities and skills of five varieties as detailed below.

The candidate must be able to observe and participate in lectures, demonstrations and experiments in the basic and clinical sciences. A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision, hearing and somatic sensation.
A candidate should be able to speak with clients and to hear and observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, owners, peers, staff and faculty. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.
Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to execute motor activities reasonably required to provide general care and safe restraint, to perform diagnostic procedures and to provide emergency treatment to patients.
Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities
These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of veterinarians, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize. In addition a candidate must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures. The candidate must be able to learn and manage the clinical problems of many patients simultaneously. The candidate must have the capacity to perform these problem-solving skills in a timely fashion. The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers and the medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans is essential. Good judgment in patient assessment, diagnostic and therapeutic planning is crucial; students must be able to identify and communicate their knowledge to others when appropriate.
Behavioral and Social Attributes
A candidate must possess the mental and emotional health required for full utilization of his or her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all course responsibilities and responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with clients, staff and colleagues. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to learn the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admissions and education process.

The above are considered minimum abilities required in the educational process of a veterinarian. Cummings School reaffirms its commitment to be flexible, innovative and creative in trying to meet the special needs of disabled students. Each otherwise qualified disabled person will be evaluated on an individual basis. The integrity of the curriculum must be maintained and those elements deemed essential to the education of a veterinarian must be required and completed, including experience with a wide range of species. Finally, all veterinary medical students must possess those intellectual, ethical, mental health, physical and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty.