Clinical Elective Courses

Available During Optimization/Open Enrollment These courses can be added to your schedule by submitting a request through eValue. If you are requesting a change in the next clinical block you will need to email both instructors and get permission to drop as well as add your requested course. These permissions will need to be sent to Jennifer Hamilton to have your schedule updated. No changes are allowed once a block has begun. 

VMS 6413 VHC-Wentzville Specialty Rotation
(Course Leader: Drs. Karen L. Campbell and Tara J. Ehling)

The rotation at the Veterinary Health Center at Wentzville is designed to provide hands-on experience in the areas of specialization offered at our Saint Louis-area satellite practice. The rotation gives students hands-on experience in the evaluation, diagnosis and management of dermatology cases. Students also have the opportunity to become involved in the diagnosis and treatment of oncology cases and gain exposure to chemotherapy and radiation therapy-based treatments. Typically three days per week are spent with the dermatology service and two days per week with the oncology/radiation oncology service. The location for the elective at the VHC in Wentzville, Missouri. Student housing is not provided. It is approximately a 75- to 90-minute drive from Columbia. Students should plan to arrive by 8 a.m. and are expected to stay until records and case discussions/rounds for the day have been completed (rarely later than 6 p.m.). There are no weekend or evening duties.

VMS 6710 Small Animal Community Practice at The Pet Doctor
(Course Leader: Drs. Alisa Hutchison (MU) and Marcy Hammerle (TPD)

This is a special two-week off campus community practice elective available only at this location other community practice electives are by consent only. It will be scheduled in Evalue for one student in each two week block.  Dr. Alisa Hutchison is the MU supervising veterinarian and Dr. Marcy Hammerle is the owner and supervising veterinarian at The Pet Doctor location.  Prior permission of the instructors is not needed for this elective.

The Pet Doctor is an AAHA accredited hospital in the Winghaven area of O’Fallon, MO.  It is a five doctor practice staffed by an ABVP boarded veterinarian (canine and feline) and experienced general practice and emergency veterinarians that can offer excellent mentorship and experience. The Pet Doctor is a Fear-Free Hospital and all team members have low-stress handling training.

The Pet Doctor serves a varied clientele demographic and is also very active in local rescue.  Services offered include in-house diagnostics, electronic medical records, digital radiography, digital dental radiography, a separate dental suite including high speed dental system, ultrasound, general surgery including CO2 laser surgery, Physical Therapy and Rehab including hydrotherapy treadmill, cold laser therapy , shock wave and platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP).  Orthopedic procedures such as TPLO are performed in house by traveling ACVS boarded surgeon with general and soft tissue surgeries performed by staff doctors.   Medical treatments and anesthesia monitoring is performed by experienced, credentialed support staff.  Overnight emergencies and overnight hospitalized cases requiring supervision are transferred to nearby specialty hospital.

Our goal is that by the end of their veterinary training and experiences in clinical practice, students will have strong communication skills and work well with clients, having empathy and understanding of their needs.  They will be able to show caring and support of a client’s emotional needs, along with having strong medical skills to treat the pet. They will be able to develop different treatment plans based on a client’s personal ethics and financial abilities.  They will be able to work closely in a respectful relationship with support staff and appreciate their skill.  They will need to be willing to work with and support pet rescue and to develop plans that consider the different needs of a rescue organization compared to a client owned pet.   They will be confident in their medicine and physiology, even in complex cases, but also willing to do research on a regular basis to determine the best care for a patient.

Tentative schedule for this graded elective would include four 10 hr days/week with no weekend duties. Housing is available and fully funded by Veterinary Practice Partners. It’s an AirBnB only 4 miles from the hospital. This must be scheduled directly through Dr. Hammerle ( and is not automatically guaranteed.

VMS 6711 Small Animal Medicine
(Course Leader: Dr. Leah Cohn)

Internal medicine will be a continuation of the internal medicine section VMS 6411 and may be repeated. The elective student may choose between a clinical elective and a research elective. The clinical elective student will have the same responsibilities as a regular internal medicine student. The elective students will carry a caseload comparable to the regular students, and be evaluated in the same manner (ie, 70% subjective and 30% objective). The objective grade is based on either a multiple choice test or a project identified by the senior instructor on duty. The project may include preparation of educational materials for clients or the general public, or educational materials for other veterinary students. The research elective will involve either prospective or retrospective research with the intention of presenting results at Phi Zeta day in the spring of the year. The student will also attend internal medicine rounds and may care for medicine cases if an adequate case load permits this option. Generally, students choosing the research elective will discuss options with the internal medicine clinicians months in advance of the rotation to allow for adequate preparation of a project idea and efficient use of time while on rotation.

VMS 6713 Shelter Medicine Elective at the Humane Society of Missouri
(Course Leader: Dr. Amie Burling)

This 6-week clinical rotation is taught off-site at the Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis, MO.  The rotation aims to provide a comprehensive experience in shelter medicine, including surgery, internal medicine, behavior, epidemiology, and veterinary forensics.  However, experiences can be somewhat varied and are determined by the veterinarian in charge.  Grading is subjective and based on a metric determined by the course leaders.  Housing will be provided for the student in St. Louis at no charge.

VMS 6720 Equine Medicine & Surgery
Also Available as an Off Campus Elective with instructor permission
(Course Leader: Dr. Philip Johnson)

Students may choose equine medicine or surgery for 2 credits (2 weeks). Presently, in-house ambulatory electives are not offered due to the nature of the activity (limited number of seats in trucks).  Students repeating equine medicine and/or surgery will often function in a way similar to students taking the rotation for the first time. It is anticipated that students may take the elective block before the required block. The student may, at the discretion of the instructor, have different responsibilities to include special projects or papers, and may be excluded from some responsibilities or experiences of the basic equine rotation. The student will usually be expected and encouraged to participate in equine medicine or surgery rounds. Participation in primary equine emergency service is an option but will not be required. However, the student will be expected to participate in secondary (back-up) emergency duty. Repeat students will be evaluating new cases and may be working alongside different instructors and house officers. Thus, the learning experience will build on the knowledge base achieved in the first rotation. The objective grade may be based on the results of formal examination, unless not required by the attending service leader.

Students may be allowed to undertake graded elective rotations at locations remote to Columbia. For internal medicine and surgery, these ‘external’ graded experiences must be for 2 weeks and must be supervised by a diplomate of the ACVIM-LAIM or ACVS, respectively (that person should be willing to provide a grade of the participating student). Participating students may be required to provide a report of their experience upon return to Columbia. Interested students should start making arrangements by talking to one of the equine (medicine or surgery) specialists (who will have to agree to facilitate the process).

VMS 6732 Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery
Also Available as an Off Campus Elective with instructor permission
(Course Leader: Dr. Lauren Reeves)

Students in this elective will have clinical case exposure and responsibility equivalent to students in the required Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery Rotation (VMS 6432). Also, VMS 6732 elective students will participate in daily rounds discussions and other educational activities along with the required Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery Rotation students. Elective students will participate in emergency call rotation along with required rotation students. Students need not take VMS 6432 before taking VMS 6732. However, if a student takes VMS 6732 first, s/he must eventually take VMS 6432. In other words, VMS 6432 will not become elective. Special permission from the course leader is not required for VMS 6732 unless the student wishes to repeat the elective. In other words, VMS 6732 may be taken only once, but may be taken a second time with course leader consent. The number of students who may take VMS 6732 in any given rotation is dictated by the overall course scheduling program that limits the total number of students on the Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery Rotation.

Three alternative options exist for VMS 6732:

  1. Students may take this elective off campus under the supervision of a board-certified surgeon in private practice. See the Office of Student and Academic Affairs and the VMS 6732 Canvas site for details about this option. This is a nice option when the clinical rotation scheduling program indicates that there is no room for an on-campus VMS 6732 elective student. Course leader consent is necessary for this option to make sure proper arrangements have been made with the sponsoring board-certified surgeon.
  2. Students may do an elective at Veterinary Specialty Services in St. Louis, MO.  This practice has prior approval so the student needs to contact them directly and then forward their dates to Dr. Lauren Reeves and Jennifer Hamilton so the elective can be added to their schedule.
  3. VMS 6732 may be used for a non-clinical elective in Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery. Such an elective experience requires advanced planning with a specific faculty member of the Soft Tissue Surgery Service. This option requires course leader consent.

VMS 6733 Small Animal Surgical Oncology
(Course Leader: Dr. Owen Skinner)

Cancer is the most common cause of death in adult dogs and surgery is the most widely used modality to treat tumors, with relevance to both general and specialty practice. This rotation provides students with opportunities to participate in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions encountered in small animal surgical oncology. Under the direct supervision of a veterinarian, students will be given responsibility for the management of individual cases. The goals of this rotation are to develop the student’s understanding of staging, pre-surgical decision-making, intra-operative execution, and post-operative care in management of cancer patients.

The Oncology clinical course (VMS 6490) is not a prerequisite for this elective course. Elective students will take part in evaluation of potentially surgical new cases presenting to the Oncology group and will be prioritized for involvement with patients expected to go to surgery at that visit. Students will not take an examination at the end of the rotation but will be required to give a 15-minute presentation on a surgical oncology case or topic of their choosing (in consultation with the surgical oncology faculty on clinics). Students in this elective will otherwise have clinical case exposure and responsibilities equivalent to students in the required Oncology Rotation.

VMS 6734 Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery
Also Available as an Off Campus Elective with instructor permission
(Course Leader: Dr. Derek Fox)

The objective of this course is to offer more clinical exposure to the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic diseases in the small animal patient. Alternatively, this time may be used to complete a special orthopedic research project but that must be previously arranged with one of the senior faculty members (Fox, Torres, Hutcheson) before registration. The required orthopedic course is not a prerequisite for the elective course offered as similar clinical experiences are anticipated regardless of which is taken.

VMS 6736 Small Animal Neurology
(Course Leaders: Drs. Joan Coates, Ji-Hey Lim, Sissy Hong)

The neurology/neurosurgery rotation is designed to give students hands-on experience with clinical service, and medical and surgical neurology cases. During this rotation, the student will practice client communication skills, history taking, physical and neurologic examinations, and establish competence in the care, diagnosis and treatment of dogs and cats with neurologic diseases.

Students in this elective will have clinical case exposure and responsibility equivalent to students in the required Small Animal Neurology/Neurosurgery clinical rotation. The elective rotation can only be taken AFTER completion of the required rotation. Elective students will participate in emergency call, duties and rounds along with the required block students.

VMS 6741 Radiology
Small Animal DX and Large Animal DX:
 Clinical Elective in Diagnostic Radiology: (emphasis in either small animal radiology or large animal radiology)
(Course Leader: Dr. Jimmy Lattimer)

Students taking an elective in diagnostic radiology will be required to sign up for at least 2 weeks of the block. The outline of activities is as follows: The elective student will be expected to attend the faculty/resident rounds at the beginning of the day (8:30). They are welcome to arrive at 8 am and sit in on topic rounds with the required Radiology block students until the faculty/resident rounds begin. On Monday’s the residents will have Known Case Conference (KCC) and DX elective students may attend. LA DX students will assist the technician/technologists performing radiographic examinations in the large animal clinic. The SA DX students will not be required to routinely assist the technologists but are encouraged to participate in obtaining special views. During any time the students are not working on their case reports, they are encouraged to “shadow” the clinician or resident on routine clinical service on either the first (LA) or second (SA) floor of the hospital and observe performance of any special procedures done by that clinician. The student will also be assigned to independently develop radiology reports for a minimum of 10 cases from either cases currently being radiographed (SA) or a combination of current and old studies with the ratio dependent on caseload (LA). The elective student will also be required to develop a presentation to share with the regular rotation students, elective students, residents, and faculty near the end of their elective rotation (Friday, Monday or Tuesday depending on the total number of elective students). This presentation should be a power point forming a mini seminar on the topic under discussion lasting approximately 10-15 minutes. The topic can be based on a case, an investigative study, or an imaging topic. Grading will be subjective on the basis of attendance, participation in discussions with the radiologists in rounds and on the floor, completion of the radiology reports, and the quality of the work on the reports and presentation. Additional case reports will be a positive factor. No examination will be required. Grading will be letter grades. There is a limit of 2 students per block in each of these electives for a total of 4 DX imaging students. Rearrangement of the SA:LA ratio (eg. 3 SA DX and 1 LA DX) will be allowed with special permission of the course leader after the initial block schedule is completed. Both electives may be taken before the regular block rotation and may be repeated.

VMS 6742 Anesthesiology
(Course Leader: Dr. Alex Bukoski)

This elective is designed to expose students to more challenging anesthetic cases. Although the course requires participation in small animal anesthesia, opportunities for interested students to gain food animal and equine experience are possible depending on caseload. In consultation with an anesthesiologist, students select an anesthesia-related topic, perform a literature review, and present their findings to their colleagues during morning anesthesia rounds. This elective can be taken prior to VMS 6442. In this scenario, case exposure is adjusted in both VMS 6442 and 6742 according to the student’s level of experience.

VMS6743 Radiology: Special Imaging
(Course Leader: Dr. Jimmy Lattimer)

This elective is an introduction to special imaging modalities including ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance and nuclear scintigraphy in small animal patients. A major part of the course will be devoted to recognition and interpretation of abdominal ultrasound. The goals of this rotation are first, to provide opportunities for elective students to be exposed to various diagnostic imaging modalities including ultrasound, computed tomography, nuclear scintigraphy and magnetic resonance imaging; second, to understand indications for use of and limitations of various imaging modalities; and third, to improve sonographic skills and interpretation of sonographic images.

Students electing to take the clinical elective will be required to attend the regular radiology staff resident rounds at the beginning of the day in order to be familiar with the discussion between the clinicians regarding cases that have had special diagnostic imaging examinations. The student will be required to be present for the performance of all ultrasound examinations and will be assigned specific times to be present for CT, MRI and nuclear scintigraphy examinations. During this elective, most of the time will be spent observing ultrasound examinations. In the case of ultrasound studies, when time and resources permit, the student will be encouraged to repeat the study and try to repeat the findings of the clinician. Unfortunately this is not possible in MR, CT and scintigraphy and may not always be possible with ultrasound examinations. When the student is not occupied with special imaging studies, he or she will be required to work on case reports (two assigned cases related to MRI, CT or nuclear scintigraphy) and an oral presentation. The two case reports will need to be presented to the special imaging clinical instructor before the end of the two-week rotation so that they can be revised and included in the record of the patient. The oral presentation will be in the form of a power point given towards the end of the rotation (Friday, Monday or Tuesday depending on the number of elective students) and will form a mini seminar prepared for an audience consisting of regular and elective students. The topic of the presentation should be focused on an interesting case seen during the rotation for which the student was present during the examination. The presentation should include signalment, physical examination findings, results of diagnostics not restricted to imaging findings. The presentation should also elaborate on the disease process involved, and normal and abnormal imaging findings of the organ of interest.  This presentation is expected to be approximately 10-15 minutes in length. In addition, the student will need to complete clinical competencies related to this elective and view a tutorial on basic physics and normal imaging findings. The rotation may be taken before or after the regular rotation in radiology. Grading will be A/F and based on attendance, participation in discussion, professionalism, case reports, view of the tutorial, oral presentation and satisfactory completion of the clinical competencies. There is a maximum of 4 students per rotation in this elective. This rotation cannot be repeated.

VMS 6744 Radiation Therapy: Clinical Elective in Radiation Therapy
(Course Leader: Dr. Charles Maitz)

Students who take the clinical elective in radiation oncology will be introduced to radiation therapy planning, treatment execution, and case management. The main goal of the course is to develop a better understanding of the radiation therapy patient, including side effects of therapy and expected outcomes, which will position them to be quality collaborators on radiation therapy cases as referring veterinarians. In addition, they will experience the subspecialty of radiation oncology. They will be introduced to the specialized equipment used in radiation therapy, including external beam radiation therapy, computerized treatment planning, brachytherapy, plesiotherapy, and radiopharmaceuticals. The students are expected to develop an understanding of radiation physics, radiation biology, cancer biology, and clinical oncology as they pertain to radiation therapy and the management of radiation therapy cases. The students are expected to attend weekly radiation oncology service rounds, as well as daily medical oncology case rounds. The bulk of the time on the rotation will be spent observing the delivery of radiation therapy at either the Columbia or Wentzville location, participating in treatment planning for radiation therapy, or participating in direct case management and consultation. The student will be expected to present a 20 minute topical presentation to the clinical radiology students and faculty. The elective rotation can be taken before or after the clinical radiology and/or clinical oncology courses. The Wentzville rotation is only available with prior approval.

VMS 6751 External Food Animal Service and Theriogenology Teaching Program (EFASTP) Course Outline
(Course Leader: Dr. Loren Schultz)

I. Course Description

1. The objective of this course is to offer veterinary students at MU additional options for clinical training in Theriogenology and Food Supply Veterinary Medicine beyond the core curriculum. It may be taken for 2 to 4 weeks depending on availability of host practices.
2. The External Food Animal Service and Theriogenology Teaching Program is cooperative program between veterinary practitioners, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Robert J. and Elizabeth M. Gourley Foundation.
3. The course will be offered during the clinical blocks 1, 3, 4, 8, 9, 11, and 12

II. Selection of students for the EFASTP

1. A list of practitioners will be made for each clinical block. Students wanting to participate will rank the practitioners based on the description of the food animal and theriogenology case load provided by the practitioner.
2. If enough slots are available students will be assigned to the practice the ranked the highest.
3. When multiple students rank a practice the same and not enough slots are available preference will be given to the students with the best combined grades in their food animal and theriogenology didactic courses available at least three months prior to the clinical block the select.
4. In the event that more students select this elective than there are slots available, students not assigned to a practice will be given the choice of participating in the food animal medicine and surgery clinical elective during that block or opting out the elective completely.
5. Students participating in the course will be required to evaluate the practice they attend. This evaluation will be used in determining the suitability of the practice to host students.
6. One student on each clinical block will participate in the end of block meeting with the VHC Department Head to discuss the program.

III. Administration of the Program:

1. Dr. Loren Schultz will be the course coordinator.
2. A MU faculty member will visit the practice(s) and student(s) to observe the functioning of the EFASTP.
3. The course coordinator will conduct exit interviews with each student.
4. At the conclusion of the first three months, the EFASTP will be critiqued by the Food Supply faculty, Theriogenology faculty, Theriogenology Task Force, and Food Animal Advisory Committee.
5. Input from the practices, the students, faculty, Task Force and the Advisory Committee will be used to modify the EFASTP on an ongoing basis as needed.
6. The Dean’s Office and the Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Department’s Chair will be updated on the EFASTP quarterly on February 01, May 01, August 1, and November 1.
7. Student’s travel expenses at the beginning and end of external practice experience will be reimbursed upon proper submission of Form UM11 to the Course Coordinator.

IV. Grading Criteria

1. Every clinician in a participating practice that has clinical contact with a student will complete the student evaluation form used by the faculty of the Food Animal Section. This (these) form(s) will be sent to the course coordinator by US or e-mail when the student finishes their stay in the practice.
2. Practitioners and students will each have a copy of the Proficiencies, Skills, Tasks and Competencies List (see Section VI). The practitioner will initial each Proficiency, Skill, Task or Competency that the student performs on both the practitioner’s and the student’s lists. The student will keep their copy. The practitioner will return their copy of the list to the course coordinator along with the form in V. 1. above.
3. Each student under the supervision of a practitioner will perform at least 15 of the items of the Proficiencies, Skills, Tasks, or Competencies List.
4. For each two hours of credit, students will be required to submit two (2) two-page, double spaced, referenced case reports on cases seen by the student in the practice and approved by the practitioner as part of the course requirements.
5. The course coordinator will evaluate the forms and will be responsible for assigning a grade for each participating student.

V. Proficiencies, Skills, Tasks and Competencies List

A. Large Animal

1. Correctly place a halter on a bovine.
2. Restrain a bovine with a lariat.
3. Restrain a porcine with a snare
4. Demonstrate and discuss the proper the proper use of a bull lead.
5. Discuss and demonstrate the safe operation of a head catch or squeeze chute.
6. Perform a rectal examination in the bovine.
7. Palpate a cow’s reproductive tract for pregnancy.
8. Palpate a mare’s reproductive tract for pregnancy.
9. Perform regional blocks for abdominal surgery in the bovine.
10. Castrate a calf.
11. Castrate a horse.
12. Castrate a piglet.
13. Castrate a small ruminant.
14. Assist with a ruminant caesarian section.
15. Assist with a porcine caesarian section.
16. Assist with a mare caesarian section
17. Perform a breeding soundness examination on a bull.
18. Perform a breeding soundness examination on a stallion.
19. Perform a breeding soundness examination on a ram or buck.
20. Use ultrasound to diagnose pregnancy in a cow/heifer.
21. Use ultrasound to diagnose pregnancy in a mare.
22. Use ultrasound to diagnose pregnancy in a small ruminant.
23. Use ultrasound to diagnose pregnancy in a sow/gilt.
24. Exam an equine’s foot.
25. Properly administer a subcutaneous injection in various species.
26. Properly administer an intramuscular injection in various species.
27. Demonstrate an intravenous injection in various species.
28. Pass a stomach tube on a bovine.
29. Pass a stomach tube on an equine.
30. Administer fluids to a calf via an esophageal feeder.
31. Administer a bolus to a baby calf.
32. Administer a bolus to an adult bovine via a balling gun.
33. Determine the age of cattle by their dentition.
34. Discuss the proper storage and handling of drugs and vaccines.
35. Auscultate normal and abnormal lungs.
36. Examine and auscultate cattle with abdominal disorders, i.e., displaced abomasums, bloat, grain overload, etc.
37. Perform a rumenotomy.
38. Discuss Beef and Dairy quality assurance.
39. Discuss biosecurity and biocontainment.
40. Dehorn a baby ruminant by electro-cautery
41. Dehorn older cattle with Barnes or Keystone dehorners with hemostasis.
42. Demonstrate local anesthesia for the cornual nerve.
43. Demonstrate proper tattooing of cattle.
44. Properly apply a third eyelid flap.
45. Assist in obstetrical procedures any species.
46. Demonstrate the correct procedures for collecting sterile quarter milk samples.
47. Properly place implants in cattle ears.
48. Discuss and demonstrate the proper use and care of reusable syringes.
49. Perform an epidural block in a bovine/small ruminant.
50. Assist with the replacement of a prolapsed vagina, uterus, or rectum.
51. Perform and interpret the California Mastitis Test.
52. Conduct a physical examination on a bovine and/or small ruminant.
53. Conduct a physical examination on an equine.
54. Conduct a physical examination on a porcine
55. Demonstrate and discuss body condition scoring of beef animals.
56. Demonstrate and discuss body condition scoring of dairy breeding females.
57. Demonstrate and discuss body condition scoring of small ruminants.
58. Repair a cut or laceration.
59. Treat and discuss causes of neonatal pig diarrhea.
60. Use and discuss synchronization programs in bovine or porcine.
61. Demonstrate knowledge of proper nutrition for beef/dairy/small ruminant or porcine production.
62. Be exposed to production records (i.e. DHIA, CowSense, Pig Champ, etc.)
63. Analyze ventilation systems in a commercial swine operation.
64. Be exposed to regulatory veterinary medicine
B. Small Animal
1. Perform a breeding soundness examination on a dog.
2. Assist with a cat or dog caesarian section.
3. Castrate a dog.
4. Castrate a cat.
5. Spay a cat.
6. Spay a dog.
7. Perform and explain vaginal cytology in the bitch.

VMS 6760 Small Animal Nutrition
(Course Leader: Dr. Elena Leavitt)

Instruction will occur during 2-weeks sessions of clinical blocks and will include any of the following (depending on current caseload): nutritional assessment and management of in-house patients, homemade diet formulation, extramural nutrition consultations, topical reviews, laboratory exercises, individual presentations, and field trips and/or tours.  The course objective will be to develop competence in assessment and provision of nutrition in hospitalized and outpatient dogs and cats. Participants will become familiar with commercial therapeutic and over-the-counter diets, including their indications and contraindications for use. Students will also become familiar with developing effective weight loss plans, use of product guides and other resources to compare, select, and formulate diets will be demonstrated and practiced. Individual research projects relevant to nutrition consultation may be assigned. Depending on availability, a day trip to a pet food manufacturing site may be included.

Specific learning objectives:

  1. Perform nutritional assessments of hospitalized patients and outpatients.
  2. Formulate nutrition plans (including assisted feeding plans) by integrating patient history, physical exam, diagnostics, and ongoing findings.
  3. Evaluate progress and outcomes in cases; adjust recommendations as needed.
  4. Become familiar with commercial therapeutic and maintenance diets, including applicable product guides, to evaluate and recommend appropriate choices based on nutritional assessments.
  5. Participate in external nutrition consultations and become familiar with the formulation of home-prepared canine/feline diets.
  6. Learn how to critically evaluate peer-reviewed journals and present an appraisal of an original research article to classmates.
  7. Participate in daily clinical case rounds.

Grading will be 50% objective and 50% subjective. Subjective evaluation will be based on attendance, participation, performance, enthusiasm, prior knowledge base, and clinical skills. Objective evaluation will be based on performance of written exams, presentations, homework assignments, and case materials. Each rotation is limited to 2 to 6 students and will be held from 9:30 AM to 5 PM on week days. Weekend case obligations occur but generally are infrequent.

VMS 6800 Clinical Ophthalmology
(Course Leader: Dr. Elizabeth Giuliano)

A 2-week elective in comparative ophthalmology will afford students an opportunity for concentrated study and experience on our clinical rotation. Elective students will only be accepted so that the rotation will contain a maximum of 7 students total (including required rotation students and elective students combined). The learning experience will build on the knowledge base achieved in the required 2-week rotation, thus students are recommended to have completed the required rotation in ophthalmology (VMS 6460) prior to participating in this elective. However, the elective course may be taken prior to the required course; if this is the case it would serve as the “required rotation” with the subsequent rotation serving as the “elective” in terms of expectations, requirements and grade assignments.

As part of the Ophthalmology elective requirements, students will select a published hypothesis-driven research paper on a subject relevant to veterinary ophthalmology and present the paper to fellow colleagues and service members during ophthalmology rounds. Elective students will be expected to manage the more challenging ophthalmology cases and assist required rotation students with routine cases. Participation in ophthalmic surgical emergency duty is required during the 2-week elective period.  Once a year, typically in October or November, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) hold their annual meeting at various locations in the United States. Details about the conference are available at Students with a focused interest in ophthalmology are strongly encouraged to sign up for an elective during the block that overlaps with our national meeting if they desire to attend the ACVO meeting.

Off campus Ophthalmology elective rotations are granted on a case-by-case basis and require approval by the course leader.  Requirements of these electives are a 40=55h/week of exposure in a specialty ophthalmology clinical or research setting (academic or non-academic) under direct supervision of a board certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist.

VMS 6810 Cardiology
Also available as an Off Campus Elective with instructor permission
(Course Leader: Dr. Stacey Leach)

Cardiology elective consists of a two week clinical rotation in the MU Veterinary Health Clinic. Duties include primary case receiving and patient care with clinical case work-up. Additional responsibilities include attendance at daily topic rounds and participation in related clinical activities. Opportunities for emergency receiving and participation in interventional procedures are available as case material presents. The syllabus, course objectives, and grading rubric are available on canvas.  Grading will be based on both subjective performance (~70 to 75%) and objective (exam worth ~25-30%).

Students who wish to gain additional cardiology experience can elect to take an additional 2 weeks at an off-campus site under the direct evaluation of a board-certified cardiologist.  Students are responsible for obtaining permission and arrange dates with the off-campus cardiologist in advance.  Student must complete a 2 week elective rotation at the MU VHC prior to taking an off-campus rotation.  Teaching will be largely centered on cases seen by the board-certified cardiologist on duty at the off-campus site, with student participation to the extent deemed appropriate by the supervising clinician and in accordance with all practice regulations of veterinary licensure in the state of practice.  Detailed case discussion, reading assignments, and other interactions will be at the discretion of the supervising clinician(s).  Students are required to submit 2 case reports (approved by the supervising clinician) upon completion of the off-campus rotation to the course coordinator (Dr. Leach) regarding cases seen by the student in the practice.  See the syllabus for additional information regarding format of the case reports as well as grading of the off-campus rotation.  Course leader consent is necessary for this option to make sure proper arrangements have been made with the sponsoring board-certified cardiologist.

VMS 6821 Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care
Also Available as an Off Campus Elective with instructor permission
(Course Leader: Dr. Tony Mann)

  • General elective objectives: “The objective of this course is to provide interested students with an opportunity for additional structured clinical exposure to small animal medicine and surgery and, in particular, emergency and critical care. The rotation can accommodate up to 3 elective students at a time. Teaching methods will consist of hands-on experience in the ICU, daytime and after-hours emergency receiving, and participation in rounds. This is a clinical rotation; therefore, daily rounds topics will vary with caseload. Student scheduling will vary depending on the number of students taking the elective. Student schedules are designed for students to rotate through daytime, evening, and weekend emergency receiving during the course of a 2-week rotation in order to maximize the opportunities available to receive patients. Students spend approximately one week on a “daytime” schedule and one week on an “evening” schedule, with a common time from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. for didactic and case rounds. While student schedules vary, each student will be scheduled 1 day off for each 7-day period.
  • Off campus requirements: “For students seeking to complete this rotation as an off-campus elective, the off-campus site must be a veterinary facility that provides 24-hour emergency and critical care, with at least one veterinarian who is a Diplomate of the ACVECC. Off-site facilities must have a signed preceptorship agreement on file with the CVM, and must agree to submit grading forms to the SAECC course leader following the end of the rotation. Once the student has identified a possible facility for an off-campus elective and a time, permission must be obtained from the SAECC course leader, and the student must coordinate with, and receive official grading forms from, the administrative assistant of the Associate Dean of Student and Academic Affairs.

VMS 6830 Food Animal Production Medicine
(Course Leader: Dr. Scott Poock)

Minimum of 5 students and maximum of 16. This course is offered during block 4/12 each year. The course will consist of class meetings and field trips. During the field trips, the students will have assignments in various areas of concern on the farm. The students will write a report for the producer on how the farmers can improve their operations. Swine, dairy, and beef management will be covered. There will be emphasis on herd health evaluation, diagnostics, problem-solving, farm management, and economics. The goal is to teach the students preventative medicine and how to create proactive health programs that will enhance the profitability of the producer. There will be instructors from the agricultural industry, as well as faculty.

VMS 6850 Small Animal Specialty Medicine II (oncology)
(Course Leader: TBD)

The objectives of this rotation are for students to:  explain the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of common tumor types in dogs and cats and discuss these topics with clients in small animal practice; identify and discuss the most commonly used chemotherapeutics (including indications, mechanisms of action, and side effects); discuss different treatment modalities available for the treatment of cancer in companion animals and the goals of cancer treatment.  Furthermore, on this elective rotation students will be offered the opportunity to become more involved in clinical trials cases and understand the mechanics of clinical trials.  Student performance will be assessed 70% subjectively based on clinical performance and 30% objectively based on a short presentation (on one of our ongoing clinical trials). Students will actively receive cases and examine, diagnose, and participate in treating animals presenting to the oncology service. Cytology, biopsy, bone marrow aspirate, and chemotherapy administration are among the procedures that are routinely performed. Discussions are held for one hour daily to review case histories, lab results, radiographs, and CT scans. Formal cytology rounds are held with clinical pathologists during the rotation. May be taken up to two times.

VMS6920 Equine Techniques Elective
(Course Leader: Dr. Joanne Kramer)
Only offered during Block 1/9 third third.

This course provides an opportunity for equine oriented veterinary students wishing to enhance their understanding of the clinical techniques used in equine veterinary medicine and gain hands on practical experience in selected clinical techniques.   It is offered as a 2 week elective clinical rotation.

The course will be delivered in 8 modules.  Each module will have a laboratory or lecture/laboratory associated with it and online learning materials and/or assessments. Laboratories will involve a combination of work on models, anatomical specimens, live horses, and online resources.  Each module consists of approximately 4 hours lecture/laboratory time and 4 hours online learning, assessment and independent study. Some laboratories may be scheduled on weekend mornings.

Consent Only Courses

Information about Consent Electives

VPB 6676 Laboratory Animal Medicine and Management
Also Available as an Off Campus Elective with instructor permission
(Course Leaders: Dr. Craig Franklin)

The University of Missouri Comparative Medicine Program (CMP) offers an elective experience ranging from 4-6 weeks (2/3 to complete blocks). Activities in laboratory animal medicine, comparative pathology, and comparative medicine research are available. The student will participate in all three, but may emphasize one or two areas.

LABORATORY ANIMAL MEDICINE: Students participate in day to day provision of clinical veterinary care to research animals. They assist and participate in routine health procedures, clinical observations, evaluations, diagnosis and designing treatment plans for a diverse group of animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, swine, rats, mice and exotic species such as bats and amphibians (species populations vary depending on ongoing research). Students also gain experience in laboratory animal practice/facility management and research animal regulations by observing interactions and problem solving between laboratory animal veterinarians, regulatory staff, research staff and animal care staff. Students may also participate in elective or experimental surgeries  if the latter are ongoing during the clinical rotation.

COMPARATIVE MEDICINE RESEARCH: Students are assigned a research project. The student conducts a literature review, implements the project, analyzes data generated and gives a seminar presentation at the completion of the externship. Alternative projects involving development of new procedures in animal care or quality assurance may also be available.  Students can also rotate with post-DVM trainees of the CMP who are actively engaged in research projects. During these rotations, students discuss projects and participate in laboratory procedures.

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES: Students can also participate in a variety of ongoing activities such as seminars, lab meetings, animal handling laboratories, facility inspections and rounds. Opportunities to visit regional research facilities and specialized facilities on the MU campus such as the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases and the National Swine Resource and Research Center are also available. Students are under the direct supervision of clinical veterinarians, research scientists, comparative pathologists and post-DVM trainees throughout the elective experience.

Students interested in COMPARATIVE PATHOLOGY may arrange to spend additional time or the entire rotation with IDEXX BioResearch, a world-renowned rodent diagnostic laboratory.  There, activities may include necropsy, parasitology, histopathologic evaluation of tissues and evaluation of test results from microbiology, serology and molecular diagnostics laboratories.

This course requires instructor permission and can be repeated. Course guidelines are available upon request.  Credit for Laboratory Animal elective experiences at other institutions require prior instructor approval and the presentation of a seminar to the CMP upon return from an off-campus experience. Please contact Dr. Franklin.

VPB 6679 Clinical Pathology Elective
(Course Leader: Angela Royal)

Our clinical pathology lab is located within the teaching hospital but receives a mixture of “in-house” and mail-in (diagnostic lab) sample submissions.  Cytology case load is moderate to high and thus ensures exposure to a wide range of samples from both small and large animals during a two-week period.  One faculty member +/- one clin path resident are scheduled to be on clinics each week.

Goals/Learning Objectives

These can be tailored to suit the individual’s needs, interests, and future plans. Learning objectives that apply to all elective students include:

  1. Gain a basic understanding of the instrumentation and workflow in our laboratory
  2. Improve skill level in microscopic evaluation of cytology and hematology slides
  3. Improve understanding of sample collection/handling and the potential consequences of sample mishandling
  4. Practice interpreting hematology and clinical chemistry data
  5. Gain familiarity with clinical pathology textbooks, atlases, and online resources


Clinical pathology rotations for elective students entail a mixture of the following:

  • One-on-one and/or group discussions of laboratory data from hospital patients with a clinical pathologist
  • Review of daily hematology and cytology slides with our clinical pathology trainees and faculty
  • Focused topic discussions/reviews as questions arise during the rotation
  • Participation in a robust rounds schedule with our clinical and anatomic pathology trainees
    • weekly cytology rounds, journal club, chemistry rounds, and biopsy rounds
    • additional opportunities to attend dermatopathology rounds, ocular pathology rounds, hematology rounds, image review, JPC rounds, and gross pathology rounds dependent on those schedules and the student’s interests
  • Opportunities to review cytology and hematology slide sets independently or with clinical pathology trainees or faculty
  • Observation of sample processing/instrumentation in our lab.  Examination of urine sediment slides can also be included if desired.


Grading will be based on:

  • Independent slide review and case data review assignments
  • Preparation of a 15-20 minute presentation for the end of the rotation

VPB 6679 Diagnostic Pathology & Special Species
Also Available as an Off Campus Elective with instructor permission
(Course Leader: Dr. Gayle Johnson)

Students MUST have completed VP 6647 Diagnostic Pathology and Special Species Medicine I (required Path Block) before taking this elective course. In very rare circumstances, if the student has prior pathology experience, exceptions will be considered.

Students repeating this pathology rotation could potentially have different responsibilities, to include special projects or papers, and be excluded from some experiences gained in the first rotation. The learning experience will build on the knowledge base achieved in the first rotation. Students must identify a mentor and develop a plan for the required elective before approval by the VMDL Instructional Coordinator. Mentors may be in the areas of anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, toxicology or microbiology. An oral presentation and/or written report is required at the end of the block.

Off-site electives may receive credit with prior approval of a VMDL faculty member familiar with the host institution and the quality of the education received at the off-campus location.  Off-site electives in special species medicine may be taken prior to the required Path Block.

VPB 6679 Pathology II: Exotics/Zoo
(Course Leader: Dr. Fred Williams III)

The objective of this course is to offer students more clinical exposure to wildlife, exotics, and zoo medicine.  Students will travel to off campus sites and spend between 2-4 weeks getting experience, conferring 2-4 credit hours.  Additional time is available on request.  Consent of the course instructor is required as is an established MOU via Office of Student and Academic Affairs.  Students are required to provide an oral presentation based on their experience to the ZEW club as well as provide an evaluation of their performance from the facility they visit.

VPB 6684 Research Techniques in Veterinary Pathobiology
Also Available as an Off Campus Elective with instructor permission
(Course Leader: Dr. Craig Franklin)

Students will arrange a research project with a selected instructor prior to signing up for this elective. This course will consist of a 6 week hands-on experience with various research techniques. The student will be required to submit a paper and give a short presentation describing the methodologies used, research results, and interpretation. This research experience may also be the basis for a poster or oral presentation at the college or at a national meeting (No graduate school course credit is gained).

VMS 6700 Food Animal Medicine
(Course Leader: Dr. Loren Schultz)

The VMS 6700 elective is offered as a 2-3 week (1/3rd block) elective in food animal medicine and surgery or food animal production medicine.  This experience can be an offsite, instructor approved rotation or additional weeks in the MU food animal clinics.  If the elective is to be completed at MU, it will be limited to 2 students at a time and will be focused on in-house medicine and surgery but can include ambulatory and production medicine if there is room available in the vehicles.  The student is responsible for setting up the experience. All rotations at other academic institutions will be approved. Practice based rotations must offer unique experiences that are not obtainable through EFAST or at the teaching hospital and require instructor permission.

VMS 6710 Small Animal Community Practice
(Course Leader: Drs. Alisa Hutchison, Meagan Rau and Richard Meadows)

With the approval of the faculty member, a student may select to complete a 2 week elective in dentistry (Dr. Meagan Rau), dermatology (Dr. Richard Meadows), or high quality general small animal practice (Dr. Alisa Hutchison). This may be at another veterinary college or in a practice with an approved veterinarian or practice.

VMS 6712 SAIM Associated Veterinary Specialists
(MU Course Leader: Dr. Leah Cohn, Practice Leader: Dr. Wayne Hause)

This 2 week clinical rotation is taught off-site at a private veterinary specialty practice, Associated Veterinary Specialists (AVS), in St. Louis, MO.  Teaching will be largely centered on cases seen by the veterinarians on clinical duty at AVS, with students participating to the extent deemed appropriate by the supervising clinician and in accordance with all practice regulations of veterinary licensure in the state of Missouri.  Detailed case discussion, reading assignments, and other interactions will be at the discretion of the supervising veterinarians. Grading will be entirely subjective and based on the supervising veterinarian’s assessment of the student’s knowledge base, communication skills, participation and engagement, work ethic, technical skills, communications skills, and other areas of performance.  Housing must be arranged by each student at their own expense.

VMS 6750 Theriogenology
(Course Leader: Dr. Julia Baldrighi)

The only elective Theriogenology experiences that will be offered will be off-campus. Students are required to locate elective opportunities by themselves and then verify with the course coordinator that their chosen program meets the requirements for academic credit. No more than two credits (two weeks) will be awarded for an elective experience in any one location.