|| Dr. Malathi Raghavan (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)
Dr. Malathi Raghavan is the newest assistant director in the AVMA Education and Research Division. Starting Oct. 22, she will provide staff support to the AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates and, secondarily, help with the AVMA Council on Education.
Dr. Raghavan formerly worked as academic lead for evaluation at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine. There, she pursued her interest in “educational epidemiology.” She also held a part-time faculty position in the university’s Department of Community Health Sciences.
Born and raised in India, Dr. Raghavan earned her veterinary degree from Ukrainian National Agricultural University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Kiev in 1993. She then came to the U.S. and earned a master’s in environmental conservation from the University of New Hampshire in 1997 and a doctorate in comparative epidemiology from Purdue University in 2002.
She began her academic career as a veterinary epidemiologist at Purdue. Over the next four years, her work included reporting on the prevalence of zoonotic agents in companion animals and elucidating risk factors in dogs for bloat and bladder cancer. Later on, she quantified dog bite–related fatalities and injuries in people.
Dr. Raghavan immigrated to Canada in 2006 with her family. She accepted a research associate position in the dean’s office at the University of Manitoba’s medical school. Her areas of research included clinician-scientist issues and medical education.
“It was not something I had been planning in my career. I wanted to be in academia to pursue research and to teach. Yet, the idea of doing research on education was not specifically on my mind, but when the opportunity opened up, I realized I was interested in it,” Dr. Raghavan said.
Around that time, she came across a paper that defined what she was doing: “Educational epidemiology: applying population-based design and analytic approaches to study medical education” (JAMA 2004;292(9):1044-1050).
With her quantitative skills, she helped Manitoba medical school leaders make evidence-based decisions. In 2010, when the medical school was preparing for its upcoming accreditation, Dr. Raghavan became responsible for the graduate outcomes assessment portion of the institution’s self-study.
“In medicine, attributing graduates’ longer-term, future outcomes to their MD curriculum and educational experience is a little more challenging as a good number of graduates complete residency training elsewhere,” she said.
Dr. Raghavan continued, “It’s real-world data. You can’t run experiments when you’re offering an MD or DVM program. Within your program, you typically offer the same curriculum and use the same educational methods. Still, there are lots of confounding variables, and each school’s cohort is different in makeup. And then there are differences across the years—both generational and, sometimes, curricular. Plenty of real-world differences going on. But you still have to collect data and make comparisons and assess whether the school is accomplishing all that it hopes to accomplish by training medical graduates.”
Manitoba earned reaccreditation that year.
Dr. Raghavan says her new position with the AVMA fits in perfectly with her experience not only in educational epidemiology but also as a foreign veterinary graduate. Even though she herself has not gone through the ECFVG program, she understands participants’ perspective. She also looks forward to working with the education council.
“I think the position is a perfect opportunity for me to work on two things close to my heart—research and education,” Dr. Raghavan said.