College of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Leadership Experience

Overview & Rationale for the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience 

The purpose of the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience is to strengthen the intrinsic leadership potential of all participants through an interactive curriculum designed to encourage and promote personal transformation.

The goals of the AVMA VLE are to:
  • Provide a highly interactive curriculum involving an array of learning formats
  • Present and reinforce concepts of servant-leadership, emotional intelligence, teamwork and communication
  • Promote peer–to-peer collaboration and reflective thinking.

The AVMA VLE is supported by the generosity of a number of valued sponsors.

Critical Veterinary Issues Defined by Megastudy, Brakke & the NCVEI

  • Graduates of Veterinary Schools are technically (medically) competent.
  • Graduates are notably lacking in non-technical (life skill) competencies, particularly those skills relating to teamwork, communication, and professionalism.
  • The profession will be well served if these skills can be taught and reinforced by Colleges of Veterinary Medicine.

The Critical Veterinary Issues Must Be Addressed Now

Students can be exposed to learning experiences and curricula that are likely to promote character development and the enhancement of non-technical (professional) competencies.

Non-Technical (Professional) Competencies Defined

  • Character – possessing an inner set of principle based, core values upon which consistent and proper decisions are derived over time.
  • Integration – a state of being in which the individual exhibits values, goals, and actions that are congruent with the profession.

For Veterinary Medicine, Non-Technical (Professional) Competencies Include:

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Professionalism
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Wisdom
  • Creativity
  • Making a Difference…

So…How Does the AVMA VLE Make a Difference?

  • Students are experiential learners.
  • Key non-technical (professional) competencies are taught.
  • Unique pedagogical approaches are used to present, reinforce, and cultivate the competencies.
  • Role modeling is the most effective way of presenting and teaching the competencies.
  • Practicing and reflecting are the most effective ways of learning the value and impact of these competencies.

AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience Design

  • The AVMA VLE curriculum is designed to empower students to take responsibility for their preferred future.
  • Students and faculty rate the wooded retreat environment of the AVMA VLE as a very positive element of our program. The AVMA VLE occurs at Ross Point Camp and Conference Center, Post Falls, Idaho.
  • Elements of the AVMA VLE are designed to be exportable for use by other veterinary programs.
  • The AVMA VLE provides a model for developing skills and lasting professional relationships in an international cohort of young veterinary leadership.

Additional Information about the AVMA VLE  follows these pictures

Click on pictures for a larger version.

The AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience

Breaking down personal barriers; Getting to know each other


Learning to work together to problem solve

Community Building

Developing Trust


Building trust and teamwork & Problem solving


Developing Communication & Cooperation

Achieving Success in Teams

Interdependent  Success

Addressing and Discussing Issues

Ethical dilemmas
Learning to listen
Respecting and valuing each other
Reaching consensus

Exploring the Origins of Leadership

Leadership often comes from within the team

Seeking Sustainable Life Balance & Success

Free Time for Interaction and Networking

Building Life-Long Professional Relationships

Processing & Understanding… “What does this experience mean to me?”

Results: The AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience

  • Has been extremely successful in promoting personal leadership in veterinary student participants
  • Has been equally valuable for faculty participants
  • Offers a model for application at the national level to promote the development of leaders who will serve SCAVMA, AVMA, the profession and society.

VLE Call to Action and Summary Overview for Deans and Other Administrators

  • We invite Deans of US Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and SCAVMA Officers to nominate two students with high leadership potential to attend the AVMA VLE.
  • Veterinary Colleges are also encouraged to nominate one faculty member to attend as part of the representative team.
  • Colleges or individuals must provide the travel support for participants. From arrival in Spokane to departure from Spokane, the participants’ food, lodging, and program costs are borne by donations made by our generous sponsors.
  • The AVMA VLE is modeled on the 2004 - 2008 Veterinary Leadership Experiences. This interactive experience will be hosted by WSU faculty and experienced facilitators and counselors.
  • The established curriculum has been augmented based on participant and facilitator feedback and is now heavily weighted to enhance personal awareness, communication and teamwork skills.
  • The curriculum has produced extremely positive results.
  • Leaders from across the profession (AVMA, NCVEI, AAVMC and the Animal Health Industries) are invited to attend and participate.
  • Students will experience personal growth alongside of and communicate directly with leaders from across the profession.
  • The opportunity for networking is continuously present throughout the AVMA VLE.

Program Support

  • WSU thanks those sponsors who have stepped forward to make this incredible program available to the profession and our colleagues in training.
  • WSU continues to seek additional strategic partners to provide the ongoing resources to collaboratively fund the development of additional curriculum and enhancements for the AVMA VLE.

Contact Information for Sponsorship Inquiries

Richard M. DeBowes DVM MS Dipl ACVS
Associate Dean, Development and External Relations
College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-6610
Karen Hornfelt
Clinical Communication, Leadership, & CE Coordinator
Washington State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
PO Box 647010
Pullman WA 99164-7010



Last Edited: Jan 28, 2010 1:59 PM   

Veterinary Leadership Experience, PO Box 647010, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-7010, 509-335-9515, Contact Us Safety Links