AAEP Presents Distinguished Educator Awards at Convention

Frank Nickels, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, longtime professor of equine surgery at Michigan State University who has shaped many successful careers and inspired a profound loyalty among his former students and residents, has received the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ 2013 Distinguished Educator (Academic) Award. Also, a pioneering equine surgeon and former educator who accelerated the careers of his students and trained fellow practitioners in the techniques of cervical stabilization was recognized for his influence when the American Association of Equine Practitioners presented its 2013 Distinguished Educator (Mentor) Award to Barrie Grant, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, MRCVS.

The Distinguished Educator (Academic) Award honors an individual who by his or her actions and commitment has demonstrated a significant impact on the development and training of equine practitioners. The Distinguished Educator (Mentor) Award honors an individual who by his or her actions and commitment has demonstrated a significant impact on the development and training of equine practitioners through mentoring. Nickels and Grant were honored Dec. 10 during the President’s Luncheon at the AAEP’s 59th Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Although highly regarded as an equine clinician and surgeon, Nickels embraces his role as an educator with just as much zeal. His biannual Musculoskeletal Clerkship, a coveted three-week rotation in which 12 students work up actual lameness cases in small groups and arrive at diagnoses and treatment options, enables students to refine and expand their clinical skills by performing core techniques, including nerve blocks, arthrocentesis, and radiography. The rotation has not only prepared hundreds of Michigan State students for practice but also has served as a model for similar courses elsewhere.

Beloved by former students for his combination of clinical acumen, soft touch with equine patients and their owners, and supportive, “fatherly” approach to teaching, Nickels ensures the relevance and practicality of his teaching by reaching out to former students and other professional colleagues annually for the most current, and oftentimes unpublished, information in their field of expertise to incorporate into his slides and lectures. His courses are at once mentally and technically challenging as well as educational and practical, and he has an uncanny ability to deliver complex notions in a simple format.

Nickels earned his DVM in 1969 from Washington State University, where he served as an instructor, assistant and associate professor until 1981 when he moved to Michigan State University.

Meanwhile, as a professor of equine surgery from 1974-1991 at Washington State University, from which he earned his DVM in 1967, Grant strongly encouraged his students and residents to pursue the diagnosis and treatment of interesting cases, perform clinically related research, publish in peer-reviewed journals and present their work for the benefit of the profession. Grant selflessly promoted those who trained with him to the equine industry and to referring veterinarians, helping launch the careers of many who went on to leadership roles within the equine veterinary profession.

While at Washington State, Grant began working with human orthopedic surgeon George Bagby, MD, MS, and fellow veterinarian Pam Wagner, DVM, MS, to develop the surgical treatment used in horses and people for cervical cord compression (also known as wobblers syndrome). He has since trained many equine veterinarians in the techniques of cervical stabilization, helping countless horses lead productive lives.

Grant joined San Luis Rey Equine Hospital in Bonsall, Calif., as an equine surgeon in 1991 and became co-owner in 1995, continuing to mentor and teach students and interns at this referral center. He left in 2008 to start an equine consulting practice.

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