Spring 2018

Training the Scientists and Clinicians of Tomorrow

Cummings School’s clinics treat 80,000-plus patients a year, while training the veterinarians of the future.

By Genevieve Rajewski

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Anna Frazier, a veterinary assistant who trained at Tufts at Tech, checks on a dog at the Foster Hospital emergency room. Photo: Alonso Nichols

When Tufts first launched its veterinary school in 1978 it didn’t have plans to build a hospital for small animals—no one believed many clients would travel to Grafton, Massachusetts. But that assumption didn’t linger long. In 1985, the school opened the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals. Originally built to handle 12,000 cases annually, the hospital now sees nearly 35,000 —it recently completed a $10 million renovation to increase its capacity and is one of the country’s three busiest veterinary teaching hospitals. “We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was not a struggle getting cases,” said Professor Emeritus Anthony Schwartz, who as chair of the Department of Surgery and associate dean led the committee that planned the hospital.

By expanding its capacity for clinical care, Cummings School also increased its ability to train the veterinarians of the future. The school decided the Foster Hospital would offer only referral and specialty services, not primary care, which meant it wouldn’t compete with nearby veterinary practices. It also meant students would get exceptional training on the most complex of clinical cases. Accredited in 15 areas of referral small-animal medicine, the Foster Hospital now offers one of the broadest ranges of specialties anywhere.

Meanwhile, 500 companion animals participate in clinical trials at Cummings School each year, with upwards of 30 studies enrolling patients at a given time. And because the school partners with local veterinarians to offer 24-hour emergency care, the school offers the largest training program in veterinary emergency and critical care in the country.

But the Foster Hospital is not the only way Cummings Veterinary Medical Center has evolved to offer the best in teaching and clinical care.

In 1981, the school opened the Hospital for Large Animals to diagnose and treat horses and other sizable animals, as well as bought a field-service practice in Woodstock, Connecticut. Just last year, the Hospital for Large Animals added an expansive equine sports-medicine complex, which includes an enclosed arena where equine vets evaluate horses in action. Meanwhile, Tufts Veterinary Field Service has grown from two veterinarians working from the backs of their trucks, to a team of ten farm-call clinicians based out of a 6,000-square-foot headquarters.

In 1982, Cummings School unveiled the Tufts Wildlife Clinic, the country’s first freestanding wildlife clinic at a veterinary school. Last year, its team of expert clinicians and students cared for a record 3,717 wild patients, including 1,629 mammals, 1,092 birds, and 196 reptiles and amphibians. The clinic has become an unparalleled resource for New England wildlife officials, emergency first responders, and the general public.

In 1998, Tufts purchased the Veterinary Treatment and Specialties practice in Walpole, Massachusetts, to create a satellite teaching clinic offering specialty medicine and overnight emergency care. And the school didn’t stop there. In 2012, it broadened its community impact and enhanced the reach of its teaching by launching Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic. Based at Worcester Technical High School, Tufts at Tech provides primary veterinary care to pets of low-income clients, while training Cummings School and Worcester Tech students. In just five years, the clinic has treated more than 25,000 pets and helped teach 500 students, winning national recognition for its work. The first-of-its kind partnership already has inspired the launch of several similar programs around the country. That is called leading the way.

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