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Faculty perspectives regarding the importance and place of nontechnical competencies in veterinary medical education at five North American colleges of veterinary medicine

India F. Lane DVM, MS, EdD, DACVIM1 and E. Grady Bogue EdD2
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  • 1 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 2 Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

Abstract

Objective—To explore perceptions of faculty educators regarding the importance of nontechnical competencies in veterinary graduates and the placement of nontechnical competency development in veterinary education.

Design—Survey.

Sample Population—All faculty members at 5 North American veterinary medical institutions.

Procedures—Participants rated the importance of 14 nontechnical competencies and indicated in which phase or phases of veterinary education such competencies should be developed (ie, curriculum placement). Differences in mean ratings were statistically evaluated, as were associations between ratings or curriculum placement and respondent institution, gender, experience, and discipline.

Results—Mean ratings of importance were above neutral for all competencies and were highest for ethical, critical thinking, and interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies; development of these competencies was favored in preveterinary and veterinary training. Ratings were lower for management and business competencies; development of these and other competencies was placed primarily in the clinical phase of the veterinary curriculum. Basic science, nonveterinarian, and junior faculty appeared to more strongly appreciate the importance of nontechnical skills, whereas large animal and midcareer faculty reported a more reserved degree of support. Female faculty were more likely to place nontechnical competency development throughout the educational process.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Participants agreed nontechnical competencies are important for veterinary graduates; however, faculty perceptions differed from previously published findings regarding the relative importance of business and management skills. Those involved in faculty hiring, faculty development, and curricular planning should also be aware of disciplinary and career stage differences affecting faculty perspectives.

Abstract

Objective—To explore perceptions of faculty educators regarding the importance of nontechnical competencies in veterinary graduates and the placement of nontechnical competency development in veterinary education.

Design—Survey.

Sample Population—All faculty members at 5 North American veterinary medical institutions.

Procedures—Participants rated the importance of 14 nontechnical competencies and indicated in which phase or phases of veterinary education such competencies should be developed (ie, curriculum placement). Differences in mean ratings were statistically evaluated, as were associations between ratings or curriculum placement and respondent institution, gender, experience, and discipline.

Results—Mean ratings of importance were above neutral for all competencies and were highest for ethical, critical thinking, and interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies; development of these competencies was favored in preveterinary and veterinary training. Ratings were lower for management and business competencies; development of these and other competencies was placed primarily in the clinical phase of the veterinary curriculum. Basic science, nonveterinarian, and junior faculty appeared to more strongly appreciate the importance of nontechnical skills, whereas large animal and midcareer faculty reported a more reserved degree of support. Female faculty were more likely to place nontechnical competency development throughout the educational process.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Participants agreed nontechnical competencies are important for veterinary graduates; however, faculty perceptions differed from previously published findings regarding the relative importance of business and management skills. Those involved in faculty hiring, faculty development, and curricular planning should also be aware of disciplinary and career stage differences affecting faculty perspectives.

Contributor Notes

This manuscript represents a portion of a dissertation submitted by Dr. Lane to the University of Tennessee College of Education, Health and Human Sciences as partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration degree.

Presented as a poster at the International Association of Medical Science Educators Annual Meeting, Leiden, The Netherlands, July 2009.

The authors thank Cary Springer for statistical support.

Address correspondence to Dr. Lane (ilane@utk.edu).