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Clinical Rotations

Fourth-year students must complete required and elective rotations that vary depending on the students’ selected focus area. Students must complete 43 credits in the senior year: 40 credits of clinical rotations and three credits in Clinical Conference.

The clinic year consists of 24 blocks, two-to-three weeks in length, with up to four vacation blocks and three extramural experiences (Clinician Scientist & Food Animal Focus Areas have different extramural requirements). A total of 168 credit hours are required for graduation. Clinical Conference presentations are required of each senior.


Clinical Scheduling Process

The clinic scheduling process begins in fall of third year with information sessions with senior clinicians and/or clinical coordinators, Academic Affairs, and Students Services.

The Clinical Coordinator will schedule several class meetings that will introduce students to the scheduling process and the types of clinical-year rotations available. Over the course of the fall semester, students will build their clinical schedules in a four-step process that takes into account Focus Area requirements, course availability, and personal preference. Required rotations are dependent upon students’ declared Focus Areas, and students are expected to monitor their schedules to ensure that they are meeting all requirements for graduation.

Students who are covering on-call for rotations are required to be at the CVM within 20 minutes of notification. Please take this into account when making housing arrangements for your clinical year.

Pre-Scheduling Preparation 

Students preparing for the Clinical Scheduling Process should familiarize themselves with the clinical requirements of their chosen Focus Area and the general clinical-year rotation restrictions.

  • All students must declare a Focus Area the Friday following spring break of their 2nd year.

Each Focus Area requires different clinical courses, some of which are only offered on certain rotations or require specific prerequisites. Clinical-year students are allowed a maximum of 3 externship rotations, or 6 credits overall. Exceptions are the Focus Areas that require additional externships to complete their programs, including the Clinician Scientist and Food Animal Focus Areas. Students are allowed a maximum of 4 Vacation blocks during their clinical year.

Scheduling Process


Students will register for their TOP FOUR priority blocks. These blocks can be any course and/or any rotation – if a particular course or a certain set of dates is a top-priority for a student, now is the time to schedule it. This in-person process is supervised by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, the Clinical Coordinator, and the Class President and Vice-President.

The class will line up according to randomized lottery numbers for each Pick and schedule their top four courses according to that order. Because courses and blocks fill in a first-come/first-serve fashion, students need to have more than 4 options in mind (coming with 8 or so different options is recommended). For courses requiring instructor approval, students must secure the approval prior to scheduling their Pick Four courses.

Courses requiring Approval or Pre-Reqs: 

Instructor Approval: to register for an approval-required course, the student need to secure written Instructor Approval (typically via email) and bring it to the Pick-Four Process.  Students who do not provide instructor approval cannot be registered for the course during this stage of the process. This requirement applies to ALL PARTS of the Scheduling Process.

Prerequisites: to register for courses requiring prerequisites, students must register for the prerequisite before scheduling the main course.  This method ensures that they are scheduled for the prerequisite course and can fulfill requirements upon completion.  The prerequisite and the main course each count as separate Picks.

Things students should consider when choosing their Top Four picks:

  • What are your top 4 priority picks to schedule for your Focus Area?
  • What externships do you need to schedule?
  • What vacation time do you need? [ex: weddings, family, trips, etc.]
  • What Clinical Service preference do you need?
  • Does a course have specific prerequisites and/or require instructor permission?


Each Focus Area has requirements that can be met by taking one of several approved courses (ex: to fulfill a Surgery requirement, many Focus Areas allow students to choose between VMC 973G-Small Animal General Surgery or VMC 973O-Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery). Students will log onto the Scheduling System and rank their Focus Area course options based on personal course preference. They will also have the opportunity to comment in the Scheduling System regarding block preferences or rotation requests.

Once students have ranked their Focus Area options and provided comments, the Student Development Office will schedule students for their required blocks, taking into account ranking and comment preferences. The schedule will then be released to the class with the required blocks listed on the master schedule (no electives have been scheduled yet).

NOTE: The scheduling team cannot guarantee that all ranks and comments will be met; however, all provided ranks and comments will be reviewed and considered.


After all required courses have been scheduled to meet Focus Area requirements, students will complete their clinical schedules. Students can register for one course each day until their schedules are complete (including vacations, externships, elective rotations, etc.).

Registrations are time-sensitive: seats fill on a first-come/first-serve basis, and the first person logged in gets their choice of open courses or blocks. Students can only add rotations to their empty blocks – they cannot switch around blocks or drop courses during One-Per-Day Registration. All 24 blocks should be filled by the end of the One-Per-Day Registration Period.

Block Change Process