Graduates often have to quit their full-time employment due to time pressures. The University of Calgary School of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM.)).
Although there are several faculty programs at UCalgary that offer part-time graduate study, this is the first part-time option for the VMS graduate program. Many veterinarians practicing in the UCVM’s Distributed Veterinary Learning Community (DVLC), as well as other professionals, want to improve their training and skills but cannot manage full-time programs. (The DVLC includes private veterinary practices, government agencies, and other institutions that offer internship rotations for fourth year UCVM students.)
The solution is an extra-occupational graduate program that enables applicants to continue working in combination with part-time studies.
Three candidates are taking part in the newly offered modified program: Dr. Alyssa Butters, DVM, a veterinarian who works at the UCVM; Dr. Thomas Daborn, DVM, veterinarian in the large animal medicine of the province; and Shannon Massie, MSc’15, a full-time exercise physiologist working in a professional setting assessing and supporting the health and fitness of firefighters.
Balance between the demands of work and study
Massie says the part-time PhD program allows her to continue working with her degree with Dr. Renaud Léguillette, DVM, PhD, a professor of internal medicine of horses at UCVM and Calgary Chair of Equestrian Medicine.
“This part-time course is ideal because I can continue to work and get involved in research at the university again,” says Massie. “It was the perfect timing and the perfect opportunity to do both.”
Massie first worked with Léguillette in 2012 on a summer research project at the Calgary Stampede that performed electrocardiogram (EKG) tests on chuckwagon horses. She then obtained her Master of Science degree from Léguillette as a supervisor, and now he is supervising her doctoral thesis in equestrian physiology.
The new program enables Massie to integrate her experiences in human and equine physiology. “In the end, you push both areas forward by learning from the other, and that’s why it’s a really good partnership with Renaud because his veterinary expertise complements my knowledge of human physiology,” she says.
Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
According to Léguillette, this program is a great opportunity for professionals with the right qualifications, experience, mindset and the will to share and expand their knowledge. As professionals, they may not be able to study full-time, so this new initiative offers these innovative thinkers the opportunity to be involved in novel research.
One size doesn’t fit all
“It’s difficult to be one size fits all these types of programs because there are so many people from different backgrounds,” he says. “This program was created with a certain amount of flexibility in mind.”
Candidates choose their field of study and use their work environment as their “laboratory”, which is supported and monitored by faculty members of the UCVM.
“The most exciting aspect of this program is that the projects arise from the close partnership between the candidate, their employer and the UCVM supervisor,” says Dr. Jacob Thundathil, BVSc & AH, PhD, Associate Dean of Graduate Education and Internationalization at UCVM.
Growing community connection
“I envision this initiative bringing diversity to our program by bringing in more experienced graduates and strengthening our connections with communities,” said Thundathil, who led the creation of this new education pathway. “And the projects can address issues that lead to innovations that are relevant to industry and clinical practice.”
The proposal was originally intended as a pilot project, but has been approved for an ongoing program and will last for the same duration as a full-time program of four to six years.