For decades, western Canadian students with a passion for veterinary medicine had to leave their region to pursue their dreams. The situation changed in 1963 when Canada's western provinces agreed to establish a regional veterinary college at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1969, the first class graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and the new building was officially dedicated.
More than 40 years later, the co-operative spirit that created WCVM is still alive and well. The College's regional responsibilities for providing veterinary education, expertise and research are officially recognized in the Interprovincial Agreement — a unique document that is updated and renewed by the western provinces and WCVM every five years.
The Interprovincial Agreement outlines the College's responsibility for providing undergraduate veterinary education to all four provinces. It also covers WCVM's commitment to supplying post-graduate training in a variety of clinical specialties, veterinary diagnostics and public health, as well as others areas of veterinary science.
The agreement recognizes WCVM's involvement in providing extension and continuing education for veterinarians, animal health technologists, and the residents of Western Canada. The most recent agreement, which was signed in 2007, allows for increases in student enrolment quotas by any of the four provinces during the five-year period covered by this agreement.
Post-graduate programs: WCVM's graduate training includes Master's and PhD degree programs, as well as internships and residencies in a range of clinical disciplines. WCVM's graduate student population is at an all-time high with more than 130 graduate students working in a range of areas through the College.
Research in biomedical and veterinary sciences: The veterinary college annually attracts more than $10 million in public and private research funding. In return, WCVM researchers are making internationally significant discoveries in a range of areas including basic and applied sciences, clinical sciences, comparative medicine, food safety, toxicology, public health and environmental health.
Public extension education: Each year, WCVM faculty members present some of the latest information and research discoveries at conferences organized by livestock or breed associations, sport organizations or wildlife groups. When important health issues arise in the region, the College plays a key role in organizing information meetings or distributing fact sheets that provide science-based answers to the public's questions and concerns.
Clinical and diagnostic services and consultations: The College's Veterinary Teaching Hospital is a highly advanced medical facility where undergraduate and graduate students can develop their clinical and diagnostic skills. The teaching hospital serves as Western Canada's premier referral centre with the latest in advanced diagnostic and treatment options for animal health care.
Continuing education for veterinarians: The focal point for the College's continuing education program is the June Conference, held every second year in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association. The College also helps to organizing continuing education courses and seminars for specialized practitioner organizations. In addition, faculty members regularly share their research findings at veterinary conferences and by publishing in peer-reviewed journals.
Training support for animal health technologists: Each year, the College's Veterinary Teaching Hospital becomes the clinical training ground for students enrolled in animal health technology diploma programs at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) in Saskatoon and at Olds College in Olds, Alta.
To maintain the co-operative, regional approach to higher education, regional representatives from all western provinces participate in the WCVM's Advisory Council that was established in 1965.
The Council's members, which include representatives from the veterinary profession, advanced education, agriculture and industry, provide formal communication on regional needs between the four provinces and the college. For more information, please download the 2009-10 listing of WCVM Advisory Council members (PDF 40 KB).