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OVC's latest grads enter workforce more equipped with veterinary nutrition and wellness knowledge, new survey says

The University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) released results today of it’s annual graduating class evaluation report, related to nutrition knowledge and skills in the delivery of companion animal primary care.

“The public’s perspective on healthy living and well-being, as well as the expectation of the role a primary healthcare practitioner plays, has changed greatly over the past 10 years,” says Dr. Jeff Wichtel, dean, OVC.

“More and more we are seeing this same concept of healthy living being applied to all household members, including pets,” Wichtel adds. “Enhanced knowledge and skills in the area of nutrition allow our graduates to assist pet owners in achieving that desired outcome.”

Survey results, which are based on responses from the college’s most recent graduates, indicate that 80% of respondents reported discussing nutrition in every appointment, compared to only 46% of 2010 respondents; nearly 60% of respondents reported feeling ‘comfortable / very comfortable’ discussing nutrition, while the majority of 2010 respondents (~70%) reported feeling ‘neither comfortable nor uncomfortable’; and while the majority of 2010 cohort respondents reported feeling ‘unprepared/very unprepared’ by their veterinary education when it came to discussing nutrition with clients, 48% of this year’s respondents reported feeling ‘prepared/very prepared’, signifying a positive shift in the level of preparedness among graduates.

OVC recognizes the need for veterinary education to move beyond a sole focus on medical knowledge and training. In 2010, the college opened the doors of the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Primary Healthcare Centre (Hill’s PHC), with substantial investments from Hill’s Pet Nutrition (Hill’s) and the Government of Ontario. Hands-on clinical nutrition is one of the key areas of focus for student veterinarians while learning in the Hill’s PHC, and these latest survey results show new grads are entering the workforce with more clinical nutrition knowledge than their predecessors.

The importance of Hill’s investment stems back to the foundation on which the company was established. According to Hill’s website, in the late 1930s Dr. Mark Morris saw that there was a need to provide pet owners with scientifically-based nutritious diet options for their pets. He was also dedicated to helping the next generation of veterinary leaders develop the skills they would need in the ever-evolving world of veterinary care.

“At Hill’s we are committed to furthering these long-standing core values,” says, Dr. Jolle Kirpensteijn, Chief Professional Relations Officer, Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “Our support of the primary healthcare program at OVC is just one of the ways our organization is furthering that goal.”

On top of clinical nutrition training, the Hill’s PHC also serves as a place for students to develop important skills such as: client communications; a deeper knowledge of preventive care plans for patients that include dietary and exercise options; and market-ready skills in the everyday use of modern diagnostic technologies.

“Workplace readiness is an important focus within our curriculum planning. We want our new graduates to feel prepared to meet the challenges of today’s business environment - both as medical professionals and small business owners,” says Wichtel. As we continue to enhance OVC’s primary healthcare program, and classes graduating in future years through to 2019 have access to incrementally more learning opportunities in nutrition, we expect the positive survey outcomes to further improve.”

About Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Founded more than 75 years ago with an unwavering commitment to pet nutrition, Hills' mission is to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets. The right nutrition combined with the devotion of veterinary professionals can transform the lives of pets; and healthier and happier pets can transform the lives of pet parents. Hill's is dedicated to pioneering research and groundbreaking nutrition for dogs and cats based on a scientific understanding of their specific needs. HILL'S® Prescription Diet® therapeutic pet foods, HILL'S® Science Diet® and HILL'S® Ideal Balance™ wellness pet foods are sold through veterinarians and pet specialty retailers worldwide. For more information about Hill's, our products and our nutritional philosophy, visit us at HillsPet.com, HillsVet.com or Facebook, keywords "Hill’s Pet Nutrition."