The attached letter is from Dr Julie Williamson where she discusses her history of a career in veterinary science, her experience designing and building simulators, and the gateway to a larger field of medical education provided by the AMEE Associate Fellowship.
As a newly graduated veterinarian, I enjoyed the challenge of clinical practice and interacting with clients and patients in their time of need. Incited primarily by wanderlust, I made a major career shift and began teaching clinical skills at an accredited offshore veterinary school. Upon entering academia, I rapidly discovered that treating patients and teaching students are two different and not necessarily co-existing skill sets. I embraced the opportunity to learn about veterinary medical education as my new discipline and pursued a Master of Science by research in veterinary medical education. My research centered on the development and validation of small animal simulators for use in a veterinary clinical skills curriculum to teach thoracocentesis, chest tube thoracostomy, and abdominal palpation. There weren’t many commercially available veterinary simulators at the time. These and other early simulators I designed and built myself, either in my office or in the adjacent lawn if I expected to produce a mess. I tinkered and tested, modified and rebuilt. Around this time I joined AMEE, completed several ESME courses, and began attending AMEE conferences to expand my knowledge of the field and share my research findings.
After several years of teaching clinical skills, developing new simulators, and collecting data supporting and refining their use, I was lured back to the United States as part of an effort to start a new veterinary school in rural Tennessee. At Lincoln Memorial University I was given the unique opportunity to design and build a robust, integrated clinical skills program from the ground level consisting of a new curriculum, simulators, assessment methods, copious instructors, and purpose-built facilities. I leapt at the opportunity to create something entirely new! I serve as the Director of Small Animal Clinical Skills, and I hold the academic rank of Associate Professor. I have taught countless lab sessions and many more times I have been behind the scenes trouble-shooting equipment, tweaking simulators, adjusting supplies, gathering additional animals at the last moment, briefing replacement instructors, or solving problems with lab setups before they were noticed.
As I developed my second skill set, teaching, I have assisted my peers in adding to their teaching skills by organizing rounds sessions and workshops. I have presented my research to veterinary educators worldwide at conferences and through peer-reviewed publications describing models, rubrics, and validation data. By co-founding the Center for Innovation in Veterinary Education and Technology (CIVET) at Lincoln Memorial University and by assisting other veterinary schools to develop their clinical skills programs, I have internationally disseminated what I have learned, allowing it to have a broader impact on veterinary clinical skills education. Along with other CIVET members, I am in the process of designing a Master of Education degree specific to veterinary education with plans to accept students in 2020.
From completing my first ESME course to becoming an Associate Fellow, AMEE has been a gateway for me to collect and share information with the larger field of medical education. This is particularly important to me because my own field of veterinary education is comparatively small and potentially insular. AMEE has helped me to understand and apply the learning theories that support medical education and decision making. I have been able to adopt or revise new ideas from different medical disciplines for use in my own teaching. I continue to participate in AMEE as an Associate Fellow and MedEd Publish as an associate editor, reviewer, and contributor.