June was the month for the annual Veterinary Educator Collaborative Symposium, held by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, an opportunity for veterinary educators to learn and share research.
This year’s event took place at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. The ISU College of Veterinary Medicine was well represented at VEC, with participation by 12 members of the faculty and staff from VCS, VPath, VDPAM, VMPM, Administration and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. ISU participants partnered to provide two workshops and four poster presentations at the meeting.
With so many educators in one spot, at one time, it’s the perfect venue for face-to-face discussions. “We share ideas on teaching, and discuss some of the current challenges in educating future veterinarians,” said Dr. Amanda Fales-Williams, associate professor of veterinary pathology at ISU who participated in sessions and provided a workshop for veterinary educators from around the world. “Most important is that we hear possible solutions to those challenges from fellow educators – what works, and what doesn’t.”
A topic that many educators had an interest was how to assess clinical reasoning, which is one of the areas that AVMA’s Council on Education examines at veterinary colleges. Another topic of interest was the admissions process in the light of increasing competition for out-of-state (non-resident) applicants.
For many of the ISU-UNL faculty, the clinical skills laboratory at the University of Calgary was an educator’s must-see tour stop. While ISU, like most other veterinary colleges, has a clinical skills lab; the lab at UC is not a lab room, but a huge building. “It was amazing,” Fales-Williams said. “It had an open floor plan, divided into various areas for working with models vs. areas for surgical technique practice; classrooms and offices. Outside the building were areas for food animal and equine clinical skills practice.”
“I’ve gone to four VEC symposiums, and each time I come back with lots of takeaways,” Fales-Williams said. “I learned some new ideas for interviewing prospective students, and new ideas for introducing clinical skill measurements into general pathology courses,” she said. “Besides all of the innovative teaching ideas, I liked hearing the different ways that colleges acknowledge and recognize the value of community engagement.”
Dr. Jared Danielson, interim associate dean of academic and student affairs, who also participated in the symposium, said, “I was delighted by the college’s strong representation at VEC in 2016. ISU and UNL faculty and staff were involved in roughly 10 percent of the competitively evaluated presentations and poster sessions, with 24 of our faculty and staff contributing to presentations overall. Others attended to simply get ideas for improving their teaching. I believe this helps to demonstrate the commitment that our faculty and staff have to providing the best possible learning experience for our students.