President’s Trip Log – First Year Veterinary Student Orientation

For the last few years I have participated in some way in the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s GOALe Program (because Minnesota is my alma mater!).  It stands for Gopher Orientation and Leadership Experience

This orientation is for entering first year students, one of a similar number of programs at 21 of the 28 veterinary medical colleges in the United States.  It is patterned after the model of the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience  in Post Falls, Idaho.  The AVMA VLE program introduces veterinary medical students and faculty to the life skills of:

  • emotional intelligence
  • servant leadership
  • teamwork in problem solving
  • communication skills
  • and an introduction to understanding Myers Briggs preference types.  

As you know, veterinary medical students compete for those precious spots in a variety of veterinary medical programs, and they can be quite a competitive lot (really?!).  This orientation helps transform some of that state of competitiveness to one more of cooperation as a class.

On September 1-2, I went to the YMCA camp that is regularly the site of the 2-day GOALe camp.  I actually stayed overnight in a cabin, the same way as did the 101 new first year students.  Exercises included sessions on:

  • leadership
  • professionalism
  • self-awareness
  • and outdoor puzzle-solving games on communication skills to solve a variety of problems. 

 For example, try to put 11 people in order of their chronological birthdays while standing randomly on a single (and quite slippery rained-upon) log without touching the ground in the process.  Or try to get all 11 people on a teeter-totter platform one at a time without having either end touch the ground.  It takes an amazing amount of cooperation, communication, and teamwork.  One mistake means you start the process over.  It is always much harder than it looks.  This is all then related to skills they will need during their future school and work experiences.  What an amazing group of future veterinarians! 

What do you know about the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience or similar orientation programs at your veterinary medical colleges?

Comments are closed.