Veterinary curricula framework unveiled at educators meeting

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Dr. Jason Frank of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada leads a session on Competency-Based Veterinary Education with a discussion on human medical education at this year's Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges annual conference. (Photos courtesy of the AAVMC)

Veterinary educators talked innovation at this year's Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges annual conference. The 265 educators attending the meeting, held March 2-4 in Washington, D.C., heard about new perspectives on technology, assessment, multicenter collaboration, and a host of other topics.

Presentations ranged from a virtual reality excursion through a dog's circulatory system to an examination of how counterparts in human medical education handle quality assurance in professional education.

But the major news from the conference was the introduction of a new Competency-Based Veterinary Education framework that was more than two years in development and informed by work done in other health professions.

Framework for education

The CBVE program, which identifies nine "domains of competency" and eight "entrustable professional activities," was designed to help institutions with updating or reconstructing their curricula. The framework outlines a series of competencies that are core as well as subcompetencies that veterinary colleges can customize or use as guidelines for assessing veterinary students' proficiency.

Colleges and schools will benefit from a common language and a more comprehensive picture of graduate outcomes based upon evidence-based criteria and agreed-upon standards from some of veterinary medicine's best educators and the latest research.

Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, CEO, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

"This framework, which represents the latest pedagogical thinking and best practices, lays the foundation for colleges and schools to develop competency-based education," Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, AAVMC CEO, said in an association press release.

"Colleges and schools will benefit from a common language and a more comprehensive picture of graduate outcomes based upon evidence-based criteria and agreed-upon standards from some of veterinary medicine's best educators and the latest research," he added. "It's not a final product, but a first step in a journey of co-creation."

In 2015, the AAVMC formed the CBVE Working Group, consisting of 10 U.S. and international veterinary professors. The working group built on existing frameworks deployed in other areas of health education and incorporated extensive feedback from employer and veterinary graduate surveys. The resulting CBVE program seeks to clarify the abilities students need on graduation and to elucidate steps that demonstrate the progression of necessary expertise, according to the AAVMC press release.

The nine "domains of competence" are as follows:

  • Clinical reasoning and decision-making.
  • Individual animal care and management.
  • Animal population care and management.
  • Public health.
  • Communication.
  • Collaboration.
  • Professionalism and professional identity.
  • Financial and practice management.
  • Scholarship.

The eight "entrustable professional activities" that outline the activities all students should be able to perform without supervision in a workplace setting are as follows:

  • Gather a history, perform an examination, and create a prioritized differential diagnosis list.
  • Develop a diagnostic plan and interpret results.
  • Develop and implement a management/treatment plan.
  • Recognize a patient requiring urgent or emergency care and initiate evaluation and management.
  • Formulate relevant questions and retrieve evidence to advance care.
  • Perform a common surgical procedure on a stable patient, including preoperative and postoperative management.
  • Perform general anesthesia and recovery of a stable patient, including monitoring and support.
  • Formulate recommendations for preventive health care.

The CBVE Working Group was co-chaired by Drs. Laura Molgaard of the University of Minnesota and Jennie Hodgson of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Other members were Drs. Harold Bok, Utrecht University, the Netherlands; Kristin Chaney, Texas A&M University; Jan Ilkiw, University of California-Davis; Susan Matthew, Washington State University; Stephen May, Royal Veterinary College, U.K.; Emma Read, University of Calgary, Canada; Bonnie Rush, Kansas State University; and Kathy Salisbury, Purdue University.

The CBVE program, along with downloadable booklets, can be found at

Other business

Dr. Martin Cake of Murdoch University in Australia chats with Dr. Laura Molgaard of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, co-chair of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges' Competency-Based Veterinary Education Working Group.

The AAVMC meeting also featured talks by Lawrence A. Tabak, DDS, principal deputy director of the National Institutes of Health, and noted educator Freeman A. Hrabowski, PhD, president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

Dr. Tabak presented an overview of the NIH that focused on three general areas: the large multidisciplinary collaborations required to advance biomedical research in the era of genomic medicine, the need for increased rigor and reproducibility in scientific research, and growing areas of convergence and collaboration between human and veterinary medicine.

Dr. Hrabowski, the Civil Rights Movement veteran and noted STEM advocate, delivered an address on the need to create opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the 21st century workplace of science, technology, engineering, and math.

On Advocacy Day, held the day prior to the meeting kickoff, 72 educators representing 27 states made the trek to Capitol Hill, where 138 meetings were held in scores of congressional offices.

Also during the AAVMC meeting, almost 30 scientific posters describing scholarly work in academic veterinary medicine were featured.

The 2018-19 AAVMC officers are Drs. Calvin Johnson, Auburn University, president; Michael Lairmore, University of California-Davis, president-elect; Phillip Nelson, Western University of Health Sciences, immediate past president; Mark Markel, University of Wisconsin-Madison, treasurer; Paul Lunn, North Carolina State University, secretary; and directors-at-large—Drs. Susan Tornquist, Oregon State University; Ewan Cameron, University of Glasgow; David Horohov, University of Kentucky; and Nigel Perkins, University of Queensland.

Related JAVMA content:

NAVMEC ready for implementation (Sept. 15, 2011)