Polishing pedagogy

April 11, 2018

Molgaard aims to roll veterinary education into the future

After two years of collaborating with colleagues, Dr. Laura Molgaard, associate dean for Academic and Students Affairs at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), recently helped introduce a new framework for competency-based veterinary education (CBVE) at The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ (AAVMA) annual meeting in March 2018 in Washington, D.C.

The new framework provides a modern, shared, core educational structure for all veterinary graduates, then encourages schools to build on that core for their unique setting. It also sets out to help students know where they stand in their progress, anticipate the expectations for any given competency, and understand what they need to do to be proficient.

Molgaard co-chairs the CBVE working group within AAVMA alongside Dr. Jennie Hodgson of Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. The working group consists of ten veterinary education thought leaders from around the globe. In 2015, Molgaard and Hodgson organized and hosted a meeting of veterinary educators from around the world at the University of Minnesota. After identifying a need for evolution within veterinary education, the CBVE Working group was formed to begin building a new framework for engaging veterinary faculty and learners.

“Most veterinary schools have been slowly embarking on this journey for the last fifteen years so it’s not completely new,” says Molgaard. “But this is a turbo-boost to those efforts. We’re saying rather than each school reinventing the wheel, let’s work together to develop one, round wheel that can roll us into the future.”

CBVE prioritizes equipping instructors with tools to help them give specific, constructive feedback to students. “If we can give people a shared language for delivering useful, descriptive, and actionable feedback to the learner, it will help the student improve while also helping the program make decisions about how they are making progress,” she says.

Molgaard also sees CBVE as an opportunity for professional development among faculty and staff. “We want to help them continue their learning journey in competency-based education, and to provide resources for curriculum review, as well as a toolbox for student assessment,” she says.

CBVE shows promise for improving veterinary medical students’ relationship with learning and veterinary medicine, which could in turn promote mental health. “Competency framework is holistic; we are looking at the whole professional,” Molgaard says. “We have built competencies around clinical decision-making, population health, communication, collaboration, professionalism, professional identity, and scholarship—it is a broad framework of the complete veterinarian, which could contribute to well-being.”

CBVE aims to promote a growth mindset that can help students understand where they stand in their progression toward competence, and help faculty provide feedback in a way that emphasizes development. “Instead of telling students, ‘You did not meet expectations,’ we want to be able to tell them, ‘This is where you are, this is where you need to be, and this is how you can get there.’”

Competency-based education has been in the works for human medicine education for decades. “Human medicine education is up against many of the same challenges we are up against, they are just 20-30 years ahead of us,” says Molgaard. “We can learn from them and collaborate with them.”

Recently, Molgaard and her co-chair were invited to join the International Competency Based Medical Educators (ICBME) Collaborative at the World Summit on competency-based medical education in Basel, Switzerland this summer, where they plan to attend and perhaps even present. “It’s very exciting to be the first veterinary participants in this organization of competency-based medical education.”

Molgaard and other collaborators have presented on CBVE at several national and international meetings over the past two years. In June, they will provide two workshops at the Veterinary Educators Collaborative joint meeting with the Primary Care Veterinary Educators meeting at Cornell University.

For more information on competency-based veterinary education, visit the AAVMC website. Photograph courtesy of the AAVMC