Rigorous curricular review of post-graduate veterinary medical residency programs is in the best interest of program directors in light of the requirements and needs of specialty colleges, graduate school administrations, and other stakeholders including prospective students and employers. Although minimum standards for training are typically provided by specialty colleges, mechanisms for evaluation are left to the discretion of program directors. The paucity of information available describing best practices for curricular assessment of veterinary medical specialty training programs makes resources from other medical fields essential to informing the assessment process. Here we describe the development of a rubric used to evaluate courses in a 3-year American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM)-recognized residency training program culminating in a Master of Science degree. This rubric, based on examples from medical education and other fields of graduate study, provided transparent criteria for evaluation that were consistent with stakeholder needs and institutional initiatives. However, its use caused delays in the curricular review process as two significant obstacles to refinement were brought to light: variation in formal education in curriculum design and significant differences in teaching philosophies among faculty. The evaluation process was able to move forward after institutional resources were used to provide faculty development in curriculum design. The use of a customized rubric is recommended as a best practice for curricular refinement for residency programs because it results in transparency of the review process and can reveal obstacles to change that would otherwise remain unaddressed.
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