The need for leadership skills in the veterinary medical profession has never been greater. Although a number of very good veterinary leadership development programs exist, robust national and international dialogue on the topic has generally been lacking.
During 2002 and 2003, the NCVEI Working Group on SKAs1 conducted a needs assessment to provide a foundation for developing initiatives to enhance the leadership skills of veterinarians and veterinary students.2 Published in 2005, results of that study included both a listing of the leadership attributes that were thought likely to be critical for the future success of the veterinary medical profession and a cadre of suggested approaches to consider for strengthening those attributes across the veterinary profession.
The study suggested that leadership development opportunities be designed in a modular approach, to include the following major categories: personal growth for leadership excellence; strategic thinking; team building; communications, influencing, political skills, and advocacy; and developing leadership in others. To ensure that a balanced and broad-based approach ensued for the profession as a whole (ie, that all 5 categories received appropriate and adequate emphasis), a centrally coordinated approach was recommended. Although specific responsibility for such central coordination was not clearly allocated to any single organization or individual, a key conclusion was that “…success will be determined by the degree to which leaders are expected to be educators, and educators are expected to be leaders.”2
With education having such a prominent role in the study's recommendations, it is reasonable that the AAVMC has accepted some of the responsibility for follow-up. In that regard, a workshop was coordinated by the AAVMC and NCVEI on July 15, 2006, for purposes of identifying key existing initiatives in veterinary leadership development, reviewing existing initiatives in light of the study's recommendations, and suggesting directions for individual and collective action in the future.
For this workshop, several presentations provided background on key veterinary leadership development initiatives that have been successful to date, with primary emphasis on those originating with the AAVMC, AVMA, and AAHA. Subsequent discussions identified gaps on the basis of workshop participants' perspectives, keeping recommendations of the NCVEI study in mind. Along with the AAVMC and AAHA executive leadership, participation in the workshop was sought from deans and associate deans of North American colleges of veterinary medicine. In addition, members of the Association of Veterinary Practice Management Consultants and Advisors were invited to participate because of their unique perspectives on the nontechnical SKAs critical for success in veterinary medicine. This is a report of that workshop.
National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues
Skills, Knowledge, Aptitudes, and Attitudes
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
American Animal Hospital Association
College of Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary Leadership Experience
Michigan State University
Veterinary Leadership Academy
Veterinary Business Management Association
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