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Section 3: Clinical DVM Student Health and Safety

3.1 Student Participation in Clinical Activities Involving Personal Risk

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine has long had the policy that veterinary students learn to be veterinarians by participating in the care of patients under faculty supervision. There is an inherent and assumed risk working within the veterinary profession. While every effort will be made to provide appropriate training and safeguards for students so that these risks are minimized, they cannot be totally eliminated. Students assume all financial responsibility for any medical bills incurred as a result of injury while participating on any clinical rotation.

Students are required to participate in patient care as one of their fundamental responsibilities during their veterinary education. Students are expected at all times to follow universal safety precautions in order to safeguard their own health and safety. Under certain rare and extenuating circumstances where the risk to the student significantly outweighs either the educational benefit to the student or the health-care benefit to the patient, a supervising faculty member may suggest that a student be exempted from, or a student may ask permission from the supervising faculty to be excused from participation in certain aspects of patient care.

3.2 Health Insurance

Mandatory Veterinary Student Health and Accident Insurance
The veterinary profession has a variety of inherent risks such as animal bites, kicks, cuts, accidental injections, etc. In the interest of student health, in fairness to external preceptors providing training for students, and to protect veterinary students and families from excessive medical bills in case of an accident or injury, the college has implemented a policy of mandatory health and accident insurance coverage for all veterinary medicine students. The university does not recommend specific policies or insurers, however minimum insurance policy requirements have been established to ensure minimum standards are met by all insurers. Students have three options regarding full medical insurance coverage:

  1. Purchase a group plan offered by the university to cover hospitalization or medical treatment received apart from the Schiffert Health Center.
  2. Arrange with parents/family to be included in their plan.
  3. Purchase insurance from another company with adequate coverage.

Proof of Insurance Requirement for Non-University Group Plan Holders
Students who opt for a plan other than the university group plan must submit a Proof of Insurance Form to provide documentation of a current alternative insurance plan meeting minimum requirements to the Student Medical Insurance Office.

Decisions about whether alternative insurance meets the university's requirements are made by the Student Medical Insurance Office. More information can be found here.

Note: Non-compliance will result in a "hold" being placed on a student's university record.

3.3 VMCVM Required Immunizations

In addition to the immunizations required by the University, there are two required by the College: Rabies and Tetanus

Rabies Vaccinations
Rabies is a zoonotic disease that is almost invariably fatal once clinical signs appear. Humans are well-protected against clinical rabies by vaccination. Veterinarians and veterinary students are within the high-risk group as designated by the Center for Disease (CDC) and must receive pre-exposure vaccination to work with live animals in our professional program. Virginia is considered an endemic rabies area by the CDC and therefore puts all of our students in the frequent risk category.

It is the policy of the VMCVM to provide the best protection for its students against serious health hazards. Therefore, rabies vaccination is required. The current recommended pre- exposure immunization protocol consists of an initial series of vaccination. Please see the CDC Rabies Vaccination Guidelines here.

Documentation of vaccination must be provided to the Office of Academic Affairs which will be stored in your student record. Two years after the initial pre-exposure immunization series, each student will be required to have a rabies titer performed. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) rabies titer recommendation is a titer above 0.5 IU/ml by the Rapid Fluorescent Foci Inhibition Test (RFFIT). Those who have insufficient levels of antibodies for protection must receive a booster vaccination and provide the Office of Academic Affairs with documentation of the booster.

You will be notified by the Office of Academic Affairs as to when you are due for a rabies titer and will be given one month to provide documentation of the titer. Failure to provide the documentation will result in the inability to work with any live animals. The student is financially responsible for both pre-exposure vaccination and titer.

Students are required to have a tetanus vaccination within the past 10 years. A student will not be permitted to progress through the program unless there is documentation of a current tetanus vaccination on file.

You will be notified by the Office of Academic Affairs as to when you are due for a tetanus vaccination and will be given one month to provide documentation. Failure to provide the documentation will result in the inability to work with any live animals.

3.4 Reporting Student Injuries and Accidents

There is an assumed risk associated with a veterinary training program and working with animals. All areas of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital have access to the accident reporting form. This form is located on the intranet under Health & Safety. All accident report forms will need to be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs at