Dr. Bettye Walters, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine on the College Park Campus, and three Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) students recently attended the American Veterinary Medical Association Veterinary Leadership Experience in Spokane, Wash. and Post Fall, Idaho.

The leadership training was focused on the concept of the “servant-leader” model, which is grounded in “emotional intelligence” theory and includes the development and expansion of self-awareness, self-management, and interpersonal relationship skills, according to Walters.

Registrants were administered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument as part of the program and were encouraged to use reflective journaling for personal and professional awareness and growth. There were also a number of presentations on successful communications strategies and “Habits of Highly Successful Veterinarians” during the program, she said.

Many small group activities and exercises designed to build trust, team-building skills, encourage risk, and challenge individuals to look beyond their long-established comfort zones were held. Outdoor and recreational activities such as high ropes, swimming, karaoke, rock climbing, and special meal functions rounded out the program, according to Walters.

“For me, the most valuable part of the experience was chatting with students and faculty from other colleges and finding out how we do things similarly and, at times, very differently from college to college,” she said. “I highly recommend it for any student and especially faculty who is willing to go. I believe it really can change your perspective in a lot of different areas of your life – both personal and professional.”

Themed “Helping Tomorrow’s Leaders…TODAY” and sponsored this year by the AVMA and Hill’s, the Veterinary Leadership Experience brings together faculty and students from North American and Caribbean colleges of veterinary medicine. The goal of the program is to develop future leaders for the profession and life skills for the individuals.

Walters represented the VMRCVM faculty, and the student participants included Tonya Sparks, Stacie Boswell, and Melinda Cep.

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