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Levine Addresses Patient Care, Clinical Trials, Education at Nov. 17 College Hour

Posted November 22, 2017

The Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department (VSCS) within the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) is continually seeking new ways to improve upon its teaching, research, and client services programs.

VSCS professor, Helen McWhorter Chair, and department head Jonathan Levine provided an update on what’s happening in the department and how it aims to fulfill its missions of education, patient care, and scholarship at the Nov. 17 College Hour.

Addressing a large audience in VENI Room 101C, Levine said the department has established three main focus areas for its initiatives: patient and client care, clinical trials and research, and transformational teaching and learning.


Levine said all of the patient and client care initiatives aim to utilize the best technology, clinicians, and communication procedures to ensure quality patient care.

Technology allows for clinicians to employ minimally invasive approaches to various procedures that shorten patient recovery periods and improve their quality of life. It also has allowed doctors to treat cases they wouldn’t have been able to treat in the past.

By using technologies that create 3-D models of patients, Levine said surgeries in the cardiology and soft tissue surgery areas, for example, have gone much smoother.

“Our surgeons actually practiced a surgery on a 3-D model making precise cuts,” Levine said. “They were able to practice and didn’t have to do it all in the operating room.”

Levine said part of improving client care means investing in improving the structure of the hospital itself.

“Our Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital made an investment this summer to go through a retreat with a series of focus groups to find areas where we could continue to see improved,” Levine said.

In addition, partnerships with other colleges at Texas A&M are also making a difference. For example, undergraduates in the Dwight Look College of Engineering have helped with the creation of a process mapping system to identify key areas of the hospital that could be contributing to inefficiencies.

“The maps are going to be incredibly helpful as we look toward getting better,” Levine said.

Client communication also will improve with the referring and veterinarian client portal, which will make communication with the clinic easy and quick.

“Clients can make appointments without having to talk to somebody over the phone,” Levine said. “Veterinarians and clients can access their medical records 24/7.”

In the clinical trials and research focus area, Levine said the oncology, cardiology, and dermatology services have been developing large portfolios of clinical trials to help understand various conditions and treatments. Partnerships with private and public entities have been valuable to the department’s growth and support in clinical trials, Levine said.

Another large part of growth in clinical trials and research is the department’s initiative to build its capacity to conduct trials. Levine said one way the department has done so is by building a bio-repository.

“[The bio-repository] collects 10 critical tissues that are of important translational impact,” Levine said. “We’re also part of a viral banking group, and we had a bio-banking symposium here this past spring. We’ve learned a lot and talked with people around the world about how we improve this.”

Through the focus on transformational teaching and learning, the VSCS has created multiple programs to enhance student learning.

The teaching peer review program, for example, provides clinicians and other faculty feedback beyond just student evaluations. In addition, the winter initiative to encourage teaching requests for proposals allows faculty to elevate their educational credentials, as well as learn how to provide new and innovative methods that promote learning in the classroom and at a distance.

Levine expressed the importance of continually improving teaching, scholarship, and ensuring learning, at which he feels the students and faculty remain central for the department.

“Students are a key, as are our resident trainees and our graduate interns,” Levine said. “They’re our future. And our faculty has been so key in driving our curriculum revision process forward. It’s a really exciting time.”

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