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Confidence and Competence in the Classroom
Dr. Ariana Hinckley-Boltax's clinical skills course lays the groundwork and helps set students up for success in future training, veterinary careers.
November 10, 2021

Dr. Ariana Hinckley-Boltax Preps Students for Future Training in Clinical Skills Course

Confidence and competence are the two words that Ariana Hinckley-Boltax focuses on in the Clinical Skills course she teaches at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and strives to instill in her students.

In February of 2021, Hinckley-Boltax joined Cummings School faculty, impressed by the position’s focus on teaching. “I get so much energy from being in a classroom with students and seeing those a-ha moments,” she says. “And, especially in these introductory courses, you can see such a profound growth in their abilities in such a short time.”

Growing up in Long Island, Hinckley-Boltax fell in love with teaching from a young age. School was typically a place where she felt safe and was always drawn to teachers that motivated and inspired her. Though she didn’t have a lot of pets as a child, she developed an interest in becoming a veterinarian alongside her passion for science and interest in teaching. “I wanted to advocate for and give a voice to animals that couldn’t speak for themselves,” Hinckley-Boltax says.

The real turning point for Hinckley-Boltax in determining a career path came during a lecture in the Adventures in Veterinary Medicine program held at Cummings School each year. “They have a talk about careers in veterinary medicine and it blew my mind when they said it was possible to be a veterinary educator,” she says, “and I decided in that moment, that was what I was going to do.”

So, Hinckley-Boltax went on to obtain her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University before earning her doctorate in veterinary medicine from Cornell University. She then searched for the perfect position that combined her love of teaching, education research, and veterinary medicine. That’s where Cummings School came in. “I found myself in this amazing position that allows me to do all of that at the same time,” Hinckley-Boltax says.

While the majority of Hinckley-Boltax’s time is spent in the classroom teaching clinical skills, she also splits her remaining time between clinics—which she spent the majority of at Tufts at Tech this year—as well as research. “There’s so much to being a great doctor that is much more than what you do with your hands,” she says, “and I’m thrilled to be a part of so many efforts to help students grow as doctors.”

Built upon her passion for teaching, Hinckley-Boltax loves the opportunity to set the tone for students early on in their veterinary school careers. “Confidence and competence are two really, really big words for me in clinical skills education—my goal is to set students up for success so that they can go on and refine their skills and achieve more in their future training,” says Hinckley-Boltax. “We are trying to lay the groundwork.”

Posted in: Teaching
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