Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Educational Administration

Major Professor

E. Grady Bogue

Committee Members

Norma Mertz, Jan Lee, Ralph Brockett

Abstract

Successful veterinary practice requires a unique combination of medical competence and other professional skills that include empathy, communication skills, business and management skills. Results of two recent national studies have indicated that many veterinarians possess the medical knowledge, but not the ancillary skills, that can determine their economic success. Furthermore, growth in non-practice veterinary careers and changes in food animal production medicine have accentuated the need for veterinarians with exceptional teamwork, management and leadership skills. These nontechnical competencies pose a challenge to veterinary educators, who have traditionally focused on transfer of biomedical knowledge and have had limited involvement in these policy issues. In this study, veterinary faculty from five veterinary colleges were surveyed regarding the importance of nontechnical skills for veterinary graduates, where nontechnical skills should be taught, and their own role and level of preparation in cultivating such skills.

Faculty respondents uniformly agreed that nontechnical competencies are important for veterinary graduates and should be cultivated across the spectrum of preveterinary, veterinary and postgraduate education. The support is greatest for critical thinking and intrapersonal competencies and less for management and business competencies. Basic science, nonveterinarian and junior faculty tend to more strongly appreciate the importance of nontechnical skills. Large animal faculty and midcareer faculty exhibit a more reserved level of support.

Women faculty are more likely to support the development of nontechnical competencies across the continuum of education. Junior faculty, though supportive of the importance of such skills, are less likely than other faculty to view veterinary clinical education as a primary time for their development. Junior faculty are also less likely to perceive a personal role in the cultivation of nontechnical competencies in veterinary students. Faculty members’ view of the role and composition of preveterinary and preclinical veterinary education, and their perceptions of personal ability in the cultivation of nontechnical competencies, may be unique to an institution.

Institutional and professional leaders should tailor faculty development and curricular discussions with these disciplinary and career stage differences in mind. Educational leaders should also work toward building integrated methods of training veterinary students in business, management, coaching and leadership skills.

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