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Debating the needs of education

Officials meet to imagine new educational models
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Jun 01, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO. — "Educational speed-dating." That's how one participant described the first of three days of discussion about the present and future of veterinary education at a meeting of the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium (NAVMEC).

More than 160 representatives from veterinary colleges, associations and licensing organizations gathered April 29 to learn about current and imagined veterinary education programs. Participants dove into smaller groups to discuss possible changes to nine types of "veterinary educational models" as described by NAVMEC executive director Mary Beth Leininger, DVM.

The chief models included:

  • Tracked curriculum (Purdue University), focusing on career paths
  • Non-tracked curriculum (Michigan State University)
  • The so-called Caribbean model (Ross University), designed at the start with end competencies in mind
  • European (Glasgow University)
  • Two distributive models (Calgary University and Western University), using local hospitals and shelters as adjunct classrooms
  • Two-campus model (Iowa State University and University of Nebraska), with some students beginning at one school and ending at another
  • Traditional model with a teaching hospital (University of Illinois).

Participants also heard presentations on "out-of-the-box" ideas for change as well as updates on education in human medicine and dentistry.

The day wrapped up with two proposed models for change — one from a student and the other from a dean. Graduating veterinary student Virginia Kiefer of the University of Tennessee and Oregon State University veterinary school dean Cyril Clarke, DVM, both imagined models emphasizing shorter pre-veterinary-school time with cost-effective distance learning, and more client and clinical experience in school.

After Kiefer and Clarke finished their presentations, Peter Eyre, BVMS, PhD, former dean and professor at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, echoed audience members' hopes for change and realization of uphill battles to come: "It'd be easier to do this if you were starting a college from scratch."

A third meeting July 14 to 16 will focus on changes needed in accreditation, licensure and testing for educational reforms to be successful.