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The NAVMEC, is it an acronym worth remembering?

By: Matthew Inniss

Louisiana State University, Class of 2014



We all know the day to day trials of being a veterinary student. Sometimes we think to ourselves that it would be nice if someone could identify with the “old wooden roller coaster ride,” known as veterinary school, in an effort to make it a little less “bumpy.” Lucky, for all the students with this thought on their mind, instead of what’s on the next neurology test, their wish has been granted.

The North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium was formed for just this purpose. Of course, the purpose is more properly outlined beyond the point of vision of an “old wooden roller coaster ride,” but the intent is the same. The NAVMEC was formed in 2009 under the umbrella organization known as the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). The goal of the NAVMEC is to review current methods of veterinary education in order to identify points of improvement, for the future education of veterinarians.  The group was formed by invitation. Members of the not only the veterinary profession but the medical and dental profession were asked to participate in the consortium. There are two types of membership or participation that recognized by the NAVMEC. Co-Sponsors are designated by their financial contribution to the efforts of the consortium. There are also those members that are not financial contributors, but still have desires to aid in the efforts of the consortium.  

Areas of focus for the NAVMEC include: education, licensing programs, & accreditation. As the trend follows in many professional organizations, these areas of focus are delegated responsibilities held by a Board of Directors. The project manager for the NAVMEC, named to this position in 2009, is Dr. Mary Beth Leininger. The goal is of this organization is to provide the AVMA, a final “National Report.” This last of the meetings of the NAVMEC is scheduled to occur in July of 2010.

So, at this point, this doesn’t seem all that enticing to students. And after reviewing the “Fact Sheet,” provided to the public via the AAVMC website, it seems the NAVMEC has forgotten one key element. Where do the students these changes will affect have the opportunity to voice their own opinions and suggestions for positive changes? Yes, experience is said to be the “best teacher.” I doubt that much argument is met when presented with this quotation as support for one’s defense. But, as a veterinary student I find it difficult to believe that a group of people that have not been in veterinary school in quite some time would have the best perspective on what it is like to be a veterinary student today. With that knowledge in hand, why has such an organization such as this not used one of its greatest assets, namely the students to which these new governances will apply? The process need not be complicated. A survey would be a great way to start. It seems that such an organization would appreciate the input of the very individuals they seek to help. Yet after a thorough search through the NAVMEC national reports, which can be found at http://navmec.org., no mention of student current student inclusion was found.

A new question is now raised? Can the NAVMEC expect to reach is goals if it does not have an accurate depiction of veterinary student life as it exist today. Some of the members of this consortium are professors from various schools in the United States and Canada, which bodes well for having a more accurate understanding of what is lacking. Unfortunately for veterinary students, many of the professors do not hold degrees in education, so it is unlikely that educational models devised without input from the students would be as beneficial as originally intended.

From the perspective of a student, often the method of education is problematic only because the institution has not acknowledged the diversity of today’s veterinary students. The demographics of the present and incoming students have and are continuing to change. An article published in DVM last month, pointed out the change in personality types in newly accepted veterinary students. This is just one indication that communication with the veterinary students occupying the seats of veterinary institutions is due for an upgrade. It also apparent that veterinary schools are not set up to meet the needs of students classified as non-traditional learning types. This includes students with ADHD, Dyslexia, Physical deficits/ disorders (Blind/ Deaf), or Chronic Illnesses. These students should not be limited in their pursuit of a degree as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine if they have met the requirements of admission and been accepted of their own achievement only to be handicapped by a lack of accommodating resources.

 Continuing to educate students with methods established in earlier part of the 1900’s is not going to endure the “point and click,” evolution today’s student has come to expect. Now as future professionals it is important that we understand how to obtain knowledge on our own. This is a skill that has been overlooked in some curriculums. The power point presentation is not an excuse for the educator nor the student to form physical barriers in communication, and yet this is what has come to sustain itself over the past few years as a method of education.

If the goal of the NAVMEC is to bring veterinary education into this century, then ask the centurions that fight on the classroom battlefield each day what is needed. A perspective into the future is only as good as the eyes that witness it first hand. The formation of this organization is long overdue, and it would be a waste to not use all assets for improvement. The students that comprise the next generation of veterinarians entered the halls yesterday, and can’t go backwards in time. Instead they will push and push until the rest of the profession figures out how to keep up. Until that time, those institutions that meet these students with too much resistance will find themselves falling behind. Applauding the efforts of this consortium are justified, and hope for a brighter future in veterinary medical education is definitely on the horizon.


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