Teaching is—still—Job Number One

India Lane College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

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 DVM, MS, EdD, DACVIM

Throughout the history of the college, faculty, staff, and students have been attracted to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine's (UTCVM's) emphasis on instruction, with attention to teaching, learning, and relationships. While growth in size, complexity, and expertise in the college continuously stresses this commitment, we still champion teaching as “Job One.” The college has long included clinical thinking and skills development in problem-based and early clinical experiences scattered throughout the curriculum. Most recently, a curriculum renewal that includes a longer, 16-month clinical phase allows more time for hands-on clinical education, electives, and externships. Meanwhile, several college programs supporting quality instruction remain strong:

Master Teacher Program

People who join UTCVM are brilliantly trained veterinarians, scientists, and technicians; they want to be brilliant teachers as well. Our Master Teacher Program encourages all faculty, staff, and house officers to continuously strive to improve toward mastery in teaching. The open professional development program hosts seminars, discussions, and workshops. One of the first programs of its kind, and perhaps the first to include nursing staff, the Master Teacher Program reaches 30 to 50 participants each session and hosts an online Fundamentals of Classroom Teaching course. Two cohorts of veterinary nurses have completed a pilot series designed to enhance clinical teaching skills.

Collaborations beyond borders

UTCVM personnel participate in regional, national, and international consortia devoted to educational excellence. As the pandemic stretched educators at all levels, UTCVM hosted regional webinars to share expertise and exchange ideas. The Southeast Veterinary Education Consortium (SEVEC) and its members continue to offer open programming among all members today, including well-attended UTCVM Feedback Focus sessions in spring 2022. UTCVM will host the 2023 SEVEC “Boot Camp,” emphasizing clinical teaching. Locally, our Companion Animal Initiative of Tennessee outreach program provides students an opportunity to work with underserved populations. Internationally, Master Teacher Program leaders are contributing to faculty development for veterinary educators in Egypt and several countries in East Africa. Clinical students have opportunities to travel to locales such as Italy, Belize, and Argentina for niche rotation experiences.

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Veterinary students gain experience in the mobile spay-neuter unit.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 15; 10.2460/javma.22.10.0442

Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program

High stress, long hours, and fatigue certainly don’t facilitate learning. The groundbreaking UTCVM Veterinary Social Work (VSW) program is integrated throughout the curriculum and remains a key support for students in the clinical phase. In our veterinary medical center, social workers facilitate debriefing rounds during intense services and are on the floor with immediate availability to students, staff, and clients. In the preclinical curriculum, VSW contributes to communication training, wellness programs, and study skills development. Employers consistently rate UTCVM graduates’ communication skills as exceptionally strong. VSW provides online certificate programs for animal health professionals as well.

Teaching and learning center facilities

This new 20,000-square-foot addition adds a 130-seat lecture theater, a simulation center, a modular teaching lab, and an expansive concourse with flexible meeting space. For clinical students, the 24/7 simulation center will expand opportunities to prepare for clinical procedures, practice technical skills, and work on client communication strategies. With 2 additional new lecture theaters under construction in an adjacent building, these additions will free up existing space for graduate students, elective classes, and other student needs.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Lane (ilane@utk.edu)

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