With approval from the Executive Board, the AVMA will provide $15,000 to support the 2005 National Veterinary Leadership Experience. The conference will be held at Ross Point Camp in Idaho in June 2005 and is associated with Washington State University.
While veterinary schools do an excellent job of educating students in the medical sciences, they may not adequately provide them with the nontechnical competencies that are needed to succeed in a practice, such as the ability to work as part of a team. According to studies by KPMG and Brakke, nontechnical skills fall in the domains of communication, personal character, and "emotional intelligence." The Ross Point Camp experience will help provide these skills to students.
For over three years, WSU has been developing an integrated scheme of orientation exercises and advanced pedagogic strategies to enhance student mastery of nontechnical skills. Since the program was initiated, WSU faculty and administration have observed positive changes in their students. Because of the program's success, and with sponsorship from Hills Pet Nutrition, WSU offered a broader version of the orientation experience to students and faculty from colleges of veterinary medicine across North America in June 2004. In addition to building community, teamwork, and leadership skills, participants have been able to bring ideas home to their schools and arrange similar orientation experiences for their first-year students.
Dr. René Carlson, AVMA vice president, participated in the inaugural VLE in June 2004 and said it was a tremendous success. "Twenty-two schools participated. Within two months, 14 of them made changes and built tremendous camaraderie and networking among students," Dr. Carlson said.
She advocated strongly for supporting the 2005 conference. "This is a potential big benefit to us. It also gives AVMA a tool to cement future loyalty, and helps mentorship," she said.
The VLE program complements three initiatives currently viewed as important for success in the veterinary profession: enhancing mentoring, in part through the AVMA Mentoring Center; valuing human relations, teamwork, and communications skills to improve career success and satisfaction; and developing and supporting the future leaders of the veterinary profession.
Two student leaders and one faculty member from each of the 31 veterinary schools with representation in the Student AVMA House of Delegates will be invited to participate in the 2005 VLE.