Special Animal Medicine as a newly “hybridized” course

by Jennifer Sargent

Special Animal Medicine (frequently abbreviated as SPAM) is a required class on the husbandry, behavior, medicine, and surgery of nontraditional pets. These include common relatively common pets like rabbits and hamsters as well as more classic exotics such as parrots and reptiles. The course is taken in the 3rd year of the professional veterinary curriculum by all 72 students in a given class. It occurs in the spring quarter before veterinary students begin the clinical rotations that make up their final year of training. This is a 4 credit course that meets once per week.

Previously this was a lecture heavy course (4 hours of lecture on a Friday afternoon!) with a weekly online quiz. The hybridized version will include smaller “bite size” lecture videos on specific topics as well as online assignments and discussion to explore the topics in a more interactive manner.  During class time we will focus on Q&A related to the online materials and explore clinical case studies. Clinical case studies, hypothetical scenarios that describe a nontraditional pet with a common concern or disease, will be worked through in groups during class time. This will allow students to apply the new material in a way that mimics the “real world” cases they will face once they graduate. Following class there will be a weekly online quiz to solidify key concepts from the week’s material. As a hybrid course the goal is for the online activities to be well blended with what we do in the classroom. To achieve this the online activities (lectures, low-stakes mini-quizzes, and discussion) will introduce material and the class time will focus on synthesizing and applying that knowledge in a clinically relevant way. So welcome to SPAM Hospital, students! Your first (hypothetical) patient is ready to be examined.

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