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Cornell Veterinary Medicine launches an academy for veterinary educators


Katherine Edmondson, M.S. ’85, Ph.D. ’89, assistant dean for outreach in health professions education and director of the Cornell Veterinary Educators Academy. Photo: Carol Jennings/CVM

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has launched the Cornell Veterinary Educators Academy, a new initiative for educators in veterinary medicine. Katherine Edmondson, M.S. ’85, Ph.D. ’89, assistant dean for outreach in health professions education and director of the Cornell Veterinary Educators Academy, said that the initiative will offer conferences, a fellows program and topical seminars to build a thriving community of practice. Programs will be aimed at veterinary faculty, practitioners and trainees, with the goal of expanding offerings to other health professions. The first conference, “Professions, Professionals, and Professional Identity Development,” will take place virtually in August 2022.

This event, held on August 10-12, will feature keynotes with Q&A, presentations by participants, workshops and informal conversations about works in progress. It is one of two annual conferences provided by the academy on topics in contemporary health professions education research – one in Ithaca, the other in Florida.

“Our college has a legacy of being a leader in veterinary education,” said Edmondson, who, as a curriculum specialist, spent the past year analyzing how the initiative can make a positive impact on veterinary education, both in traditional classroom and clinical environments, and in helping to shape the profession’s future.

“Helping veterinary faculty further develop their teaching skills meets a timely need in the profession as educational models and students’ undergraduate experience are changing," said Lorin Warnick, D.V.M., Ph.D. '94, Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine. "I’m excited to see the opportunities this new initiative will offer, both to educators in our college and to others throughout the world.  I appreciate Dr. Edmondson’s leadership of this innovative program.”

In addition to participating in conferences, interested faculty may also apply to the Fellows program. Roughly one dozen faculty will be accepted each year as a cohort; individuals or teams of faculty from the same institution will be welcome. Fellows will pursue special projects related to their teaching, and will participate in seminars and peer-to-peer activities. Fellows will present their results at a following conference and receive certificates of completion, helping to build their professional portfolios. They will also continue to gather during the bi-annual conferences with a growing community of scholars.

“We want our fellows to expand their repertoire of skills so that they can be as effective as possible, not only in their own classrooms but also as they develop broader curricula and programming,” Edmondson said. “We envision them becoming teacher-scholars and great mentors for junior faculty, whose teaching and the quality of their students’ learning could also improve in turn.”

The academy’s seminar series, “Currents in Veterinary Education” offers standalone virtual workshops open to all without the ongoing commitment of the fellows program. Brief sessions will address such topics as specific teaching approaches, curriculum development, strategies for improving student engagement and learning, assessment and conducting educational research.

Several external factors drive the need for this initiative. As the number of veterinary colleges and student enrollment increase, emerging educational technologies and new models for clinical teaching offer new opportunities to innovate. Potential partnerships between veterinarians and other health professionals are also expanding. “As the profession advances, the training needs also shift, and it’s important for veterinary educators to not only respond to these changes, but to help shape them,” she said.

Edmondson adds that the academy will be both personally and professionally valuable to participants. “I want people to feel the program is valuable and worthwhile, not just for their own learning and career advancement, but also through the relationships they'll develop and the satisfaction they will get from being effective teachers,” she said. “Increasing peer support, creativity, innovation and success will also help make teaching more fun.”

Register for the conference here. For more information about the academy, please contact Dr. Edmondson.

Written by Olivia Hall