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August 2015

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AVC’s Dr. Etienne Côté '93, named 2015 3M National Teaching Fellow

Charlottetown--Dr. Etienne Côté, DVM '93, veterinary cardiologist at the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), has been named a 2015 3M National Teaching Fellow by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and 3M Canada.

Each year, STLHE and 3M Canada reward exceptional teaching and learning at Canadian universities by selecting ten teaching fellows. One of only a few veterinary cardiologists in Canada, Côté was nominated for the prestigious award by Dr. Sue Dawson, professor of anatomy and director of curriculum and outcomes assessment at AVC.

In her letter of nomination, Dawson describes Côté as an educator and leader who goes above and beyond within his specialty and the veterinary profession in general.

Côté’s ultimate goal is to help his students be better veterinarians and better people, she says. Within the classroom, he experiments with ways to help students engage with the subject of cardiology. He uses examples of actual cases, and he has developed innovative learning aids such as cardiology karaoke and cardiology mythbusters. Beyond the classroom, he has developed opportunities for experiential learning, for example, a hands-on lab using volunteer animal patients to teach students to listen to animal heart sounds. In all of his teaching, he stresses the importance of compassion and communication between veterinarians and animal owners.
Dr. etienne cote treating feline patient
“Etienne Côté teaches with heart, both literally and figuratively,” says Dawson. “He advises his veterinary cardiology students to remember that when they’re in the examination room with a pet and an owner, they are dealing with more than one heart. In such complex and intense situations, he wants the student to feel that it is OK not to know, but it is not OK not to care.”

Côté is fuelled by the challenge of recognizing a need, an opportunity to resolve it, and addressing them together in a new way, says Dawson. For example, a few years ago, he helped an AVC graduate perform her first-ever heart surgery on a puppy with a severe cardiac birth defect.

“What is unique about this case? The surgery took place in Alaska with Côté assisting from AVC via Skype--five time zones away,”says Dawson.

In a letter of support for Côté’s nomination, Dr. Leigh Lamont, associate dean of academic and student affairs at AVC, says, “Dr. Côté is committed to shaping the student experience to ensure that our graduates are the best they can possibly be when they leave our program.”

As a member of the College’s curriculum committee, Côté is a strong supporter of including in the curriculum courses and skills that ensure graduating veterinarians are well prepared to meet the challenges of clinical practice when they enter the work force.

Among other accomplishments, Côté has established a cardiology residency program at AVC and instituted bi-weekly “cardio rounds,” which are podcast on iTunes University. He co-created a veterinary exam board game that students use to prepare for the rigorous national veterinary licensing exams. He is editor of “The Clinical Veterinary Advisory,” which involved coordinating 400 authors and 19 section editors from 16 countries. He was an integral part of a team that created a veterinary drug index app, which is now licensed to over 145,000 veterinarians world-wide.

Côté is the first faculty member at AVC, and the sixth at UPEI overall, to be named a 3M National Teaching Fellow.

“To me, this award is the pinnacle of recognition for a university teacher, but this never happens in isolation,” he says. “The award belongs equally to the mentors who have helped me do what I do, the students whose engagement make it worthwhile, and to my family who keep me going.”

Other 3M National Teaching Fellows at UPEI are Dr. Shannon Murray and Dr. Brent MacLaine, Department of English; Dr. Brian Wagner, Department of Chemistry; Dr. Philip Smith, Department of Psychology; and Dr. Fiona Walton, Faculty of Education.