Starting with elementary school at age six, I have spent only three years of my life outside an academic institute – which was just enough time to convince me I know where I where I belong!
I completed my Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1996, an internship at the Atlantic Veterinary College in 1998, and a Residency in Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care at Tufts, Massachusetts in 2003. I became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care in 2003 and spent the next five years as an assistant professor of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care at the University of Montreal before accepting a Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care professorship at the University of Calgary, where I am currently employed as a full professor in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
I teach across all 4 years of the undergraduate Veterinary curriculum including didactic classes, clinical presentations, clinical skills, communications labs, and clinical rotations. I also supervise and teach graduate students and strongly encourage students of all levels to actively engage in research. I have taken what I learn in the university setting and have applied it to lectures, labs and workshops at veterinary conferences around the world.
Some of my favourite teaching strategies involve team teaching, role playing, case presentations and hands on skills training.
I believe that learning should be a shared process between everyone involved, participatory, engaging, fun and should be student focused. I also feel that all students have incredible potential and a set of unique skill sets and knowledge that we should try to help them uncover and apply. To tap into a student’s potential requires several different strategies and modalities; the more modalities one uses the more likely one is to appeal to a range of learning styles, and subsequently student engagement.
Some of the best advice I received was “if you want your students to be motivated and enthusiastic about a topic you also need to be enthusiastic about the topic – enthusiasm is contagious”.
Based on my instructional experiences, here are some additional things I would recommend:
- Break complex topics into simpler building blocks, then let the students assemble them
- Make sure students know the relevance of what is being taught
- Use real life examples to support and enforce concepts
- Build continuity and flow between lectures and across different years of the curriculum
- Focus on quality, not quantity – avoid information overload!
- Every class has its own personality; get to know the class and its students
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine