AAVMC Annual Meeting Focuses on Innovation in Education


Innovation in education was the theme of this year’s AAVMC annual conference and it didn’t disappoint. Most of the 265 educators attending returned to campus with fresh ideas and new perspectives on technology, assessment, multicenter collaboration, international academic veterinary medicine and a host of other topics.

International experts presented dozens of talks that spanned the arc of teaching and learning. Presentations ranged from a virtual reality excursion through a dog’s circulatory system to an examination of how our 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 (CBVE) that was more than two years in development and informed by work done in other health professions. The work has the potential to anchor transformational change in curricular development and assessment.

Registrants also heard from the Principal Deputy Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Friday afternoon. Dr. Lawrence Tabak presented an overview of the NIH that focused on three general areas: 1) the large multidisciplinary collaborations required to advance biomedical research in the era of genomic medicine, and 2) the need for increased rigor and reproducibility in scientific research, and 3) growing areas of convergence and collaboration between human and veterinary medicine.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue, the first veterinarian to ever serve in that post, was scheduled to present remarks during the Friday afternoon plenary session, but a last-minute scheduling conflict prompted him to send video greetings instead.

Friday afternoon’s plenary session wrapped up the afternoon with a dynamic presentation from University of Maryland – Baltimore (UMBC) President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski. The Civil Rights Movement veteran and noted STEM advocate delivered a rousing address on the need to create opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the 21st century workplace of science and technology.

Hrabowski dazzled his audience with facts and figures about the modern landscape of education in society. All of it made the case that society needs to do a better job of providing opportunities for underrepresented minorities and women in the world of work – particularly in engineering, computer science and the so-called STEM areas.

Hrabowski has backed up that premise with action: the UMBC has become nationally recognized for the number of students from all racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds that go on to pursue doctoral degrees in science and technology. They also place more graduates with organizations like the National Security Agency (NSA) as well.

Freeman concluded his address by challenging the audience to recite a mantra for positive living and making a difference: “Thoughts! Words! Actions! Habits! Character! Destiny!”

On Advocacy Day, held on the day prior to the meeting kick-off, 72 educators representing 27 states made the trek to Capitol Hill, where 138 meetings were held with scores of Congressional offices. And almost 30 scientific posters describing scholarly work in academic veterinary medicine were featured.