Educational Session: Curriculum

Saturday, March 14, 2015

1:30–5:30 p.m.

Exploring How to Effectively Integrate Cultural Competency in the Veterinary Medicine Curriculum
Annie Daniel, Louisiana State University 
Kauline Cipriani Davis, Purdue University 
Henry Green, Purdue University
Joseph Taboada, Louisiana State University

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services defines Cultural and Linguistic Competency as, “A Set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations.” According to Cross, et al, culture is an integrated set of patterns of human behavior, which includes “language, thoughts, actions, customs, beliefs, and institutions of racial, ethnic, social, or religious groups.” They defined competence as, “having the capacity to function effectively as an individual or an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, practices, and needs presented by patients and their communities.” It is these definitions that will guide the goal and objectives of this session. The AVMA Future Leaders Program started Bridging the Gaps: Future Leaders and Cultural Competency, realizing veterinary students will encounter pet owners from diverse backgrounds and cultures; therefore they need to be able to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. Why is this important? According to the U. S. Census Bureau, by the year 2042 the racial minority will be the majority of the U. S. population. The Pew Research Center reported that white Americans would go from 85 percent of the population to 43 percent, while Black and Hispanic Americans will reach 45 percent of the population by 2060. With these stats in mind, how will we educate veterinary students to effectively work in cross-cultural situations? In this session, we will discuss what knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors current and future veterinary students should attain and where in the curriculum. By reviewing what other healthcare professional educators have developed for their curriculum, we will examine how some of these can be a foundation for veterinary education cultural competency curriculum content and work in small and large groups to identify possible domains and overall goals.

Creating Culture and Community in the Veterinary Curriculum Through Setting Clear Expectations and Understanding Individual Strengths
Pamela Ginn, Universtiy of Florida

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine introduced a new first year leadership experience program as part of orientation and an initial part of a professional development curriculum. Goals identified at the outset of the program were to (1) foster the creation of a learning community and culture of respect between classmates and faculty; (2) engage this community in discussions about expectations for each other, the faculty and the curriculum; and (3) identify, develop and begin to learn how to apply each student’s unique talents in order to achieve academic, career, and personal success. Using well established and nationally recognized faculty, resources and facilitators on campus, we created a program which aimed to help students recognize the diversity and talents of the members of their class and faculty while also helping them to realize that developing a team dynamic will lead to greater success. In addition, students were introduced to the numerous types of support programs available to them on campus. Small and large group active learning activities were employed to help empower students to critically evaluate dilemmas they may face in a professional educational setting. Using the StrengthsQuest™ program and UF-trained coaches (, students are required to complete questionnaires designed to identify their unique talents and how to develop these into strengths. Students and faculty facilitators are given a survey before and after the orientation week, and at the end of the first semester of the veterinary curriculum. This presentation will report on how this approach to defining expectations, identifying personal talents and focusing on strengths has helped to achieve the goals identified as being integral to success at this nascent stage in the veterinary professional education.

Cultivating Cultural Competence: An Investigation of Faculty and Students’ Cultural Intelligence
April Kedrowicz, North Carolina State University
Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher, North Carolina State University

Cultural competence is important for doctors of veterinary medicine in terms of client satisfaction, adherence, and patient health outcomes. Yet, instruction in culture, diversity, and cross cultural communication receives scant attention throughout the DVM curriculum. Previous research has found that although students’ recognize the importance of multiculturalism to veterinary practice, they are less likely to view particular client interactions from the perspective of cultural difference, and also tend to downplay the relevance of their own ethnicity to professional practice (e.g., Mills, Volet, & Fozdar, 2011). This suggests that there is work to be done to enhance the DVM curriculum to prepare students for professional practice. Indeed, the NAVMEC competencies include an appreciation for diversity and multicultural awareness. The purpose of this session is to explore the current state of multicultural education broadly, and at our institution specifically. The timing is appropriate for such an en evaluation since we are in the midst of pre-clinical curricular change and have the opportunity to develop modules dedicated to cultural competencies and cross cultural communication. First, we provide an overview of the current state of cultural competencies education and faculty and student attitudes toward cultural competence. Next, we discuss faculty and students’ levels of cultural intelligence as measured by the Cultural Intelligence Scale. Finally, we share ideas for broader, all-encompassing curricular change designed to enhance cultural competence within the realm of clinical reasoning and communication training.

Veterinary Students’ Constructs of Empathy: Cross-Institutional and Inter-Professional Comparisons
Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher, North Carolina State University
Lori Kogan, Colorado State University

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and connect with the emotional state and mind frame of another (Hanford, 2013). Establishing connections with others is a crucial skill for veterinarians who must earn the trust and compliance of their clients in order to provide quality care for their animal patients (Shaw, 2004). This presentation describes a study conducted to assess veterinary students’ self-reported feelings of empathy. The Davis Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) (Davis, 1980 and 1983) consists of four subscales that measure the cognitive and affective components of empathy. The cognitive elements are Perspective Taking – the tendency to spontaneously adopt the psychological point of view of others, and Fantasy, which assesses participants’ tendency to transpose themselves into the feelings and actions of fictitious characters. The affective components examine the participants’ emotional reactions to difficult situations. The Emphatic Concern scale assesses feelings of sympathy and concerns for others in unfortunate situations, whereas the Personal Distress scale measures participants’ “self-oriented” feelings of personal anxiety and unease in tense interpersonal settings. The IRI was administered to Professional Veterinary Medical students at Colorado State University and North Carolina State University. Results were compared to data from medical students and practicing physicians (Handford, 2013). Veterinary students displayed similar levels of Empathic Concern, Perspective Taking and Fantasy as their counterparts. However, their scores on the Personal Distress sub-scale were significantly lower than those observed for medical students and physicians, suggesting a higher level of social functioning and greater ease in establishing and maintaining rewarding social relationships. These scores also suggest higher levels of self-esteem than those displayed by medical students. We will present numerical data and then discuss potential reasons for the observed differences. The intended outcome is for participants to learn about the unique empathy profile of veterinary students and how to capitalize on these traits for designing relevant and meaningful curricular interventions.