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Meet some of Canada’s Honoured Veterinary Teachers!

May 3, 2019

The CVMA Teacher of the Year Award is presented annually to a teacher at each of the Canadian veterinary colleges. The recipient, selected by veterinary students, is a teacher who inspired them most by their approach to the subject, teaching methods and enthusiasm.

Below are the 2018 CVMA Teacher of the Year Award Recipients:

Dr. Bertrand Lussier, professor of surgery at the Université de Montréal – Faculté de médecine vétérinaire (FMV), obtained his DVM from FMV in 1986.  After three years in private practice and obtaining a Master of Science degree in Clinical Sciences, he completed his residency in Small Animal Surgery at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1994 and obtained his board certification from the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1997.  After several years as a private practice surgeon, Dr. Lussier went back to the University of Montreal in 1999, but this time as an assistant professor of surgery, becoming full professor of surgery in 2012. He is also involved in promoting surgical knowledge and expertise abroad with a yearly commitment to the Association Marocaine Des Veterinaires Pour Animaux de Compagnie. As a veterinary surgeon, Dr. Lussier’s surgical expertise is vast (orthopedics, neurosurgery, soft tissue surgery, microsurgery) and his research interests include osteoarthritis (pain and function), the surgical correction and evaluation of the ruptured cranial cruciate ligament of the canine stifle and the development and validation of personalized 3D printed endoprostheses for canine limb sparing of the distal radius. He has also developed an expertise in the development, the validation and the application of animal models. Dr. Lussier has been honoured with 10 awards of excellence in teaching, clinical teaching and research. One piece of advice from Dr. Lussier for veterinary students and new graduates is, “The students we teach and train today are so well equipped; however they must not forget to use the tools and skills we have provided them with!”

Dr. Marina Leis, an ophthalmology assistant professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from WCVM in 2012 where she also completed a one-year small animal rotating internship and a three-year American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists Residency. In 2016, Dr. Leis was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan. During her veterinary program, Dr. Leis worked as a WCVM small animal research student and as a student clinical employee at the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre. Dr. Leis advises veterinary students and new grads that “Veterinary medicine is a career of lifelong learning so it’s key to stay current and practice evidence-based medicine.”

Dr. Alexa Bersenas has been an Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) faculty member since 2004 and is currently an associate professor in Clinical Studies and was the Chief of the Emergency & Critical Care Services at the OVC Health Sciences Centre from 2008 until her current sabbatical. Dr. Bersenas graduated from OVC and subsequently completed a one-year small animal rotating internship at the Atlantic Veterinary College. After, she practiced small animal medicine in Toronto for two years before returning to OVC where she completed a residency in Emergency & Critical Care and a concurrent Masters in Science between 2001 and 2004. Dr. Bersenas is interested in respiratory and renal diseases, as well as feline medicine, analgesia and the provision of exceptional nursing care. In 2014, Dr. Bersenas initiated veterinary dialysis in Canada for patients with acute kidney injury. In addition to patient care, Dr. Bersenas enjoys undergraduate and graduate teaching, active participation in continuing education and if she could give veterinary students one piece of advice it would be to “Find a career in veterinary medicine that keeps you thrilled with the profession and feeling like it is more of a hobby or labour of love.”

Dr. Søren Boysen, full professor of Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care at the University of Calgary – Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM), obtained his veterinary degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1996. After, Dr. Boysen completed a small animal internship at the Atlantic Veterinary College in 1998 and a residency in 2003 at Tufts University in Massachusetts, becoming a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care that same year. He is the former Chief of Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) at the University of Montreal, and loves all things ECC, particularly point of care ultrasound, lactate, coagulation and perfusion (just ask his students). That said, Dr. Boysen’s true passion and reason for being in academia is teaching. He loves being in the classroom, lab or on clinics with students and loves to teach veterinarians at continuing education events around the world. “Remember that veterinary medicine, like life, has many opportunities,” advises Dr. Boysen. “Seek the things that drive you and that you are most passionate about, and above all, try to have fun along the way!” When not working Dr. Boysen enjoys spending time with his family, hanging with his two furry felids (Pip and Maddy), the back-country and European Football (go Spurs)!

Dr. Oriana Raab, assistant professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine at the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), attended St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine (SGUSVM), completed her clinical year at North Carolina State University and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from SGUSVM in 2007. Following graduation, Dr. Raab completed a one-year small animal rotating internship at Washington State University, as well as a second rotating internship at a private practice in New York. In 2009, Dr. Raab moved to Prince Edward Island where she completed a combined small animal internal medicine residency and Master of Veterinary Science program at AVC. After her residency, Dr. Raab worked for two years at Tufts Veterinary Emergency and Treatment Specialities prior to returning to AVC to join the faculty and also serve as coordinator and primary veterinarian for AVC’s wildlife service. Dr. Raab has authored several articles published in The Canadian Veterinary Journal as well as chapters in the Clinical Veterinary Advisor and The Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dr. Raab has also received several teaching awards including class appreciation and mentor awards from the AVC graduating classes of 2011 and 2012 and believes that learning is a lifelong process. “Find a path in veterinary medicine that fascinates you and immerse yourself in it,” Dr. Raab tells students and new graduates. “Always do your best, but remember that no one has all the answers and expecting perfection from yourself is unrealistic and will often lead to unhappiness. When you encounter difficult times, remember why you chose veterinary medicine, never lose sight of your passion and try to have fun along the way!”