May 8, 2024

‘Be kind to yourself and be yourself’: 3M National Teaching Fellow Serge Chalhoub shares his practice and advice

Veterinary Medicine educator 1 of 2 at UCalgary awarded this national teaching honour
Serge Chalhoub
Elyse Bouvier, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning

“Be kind to yourself and be yourself.” This is the advice Dr. Serge Chalhoub, DVM, would give a younger version of himself, if he could. 

“It took me a while to get the courage to seek help from mentors and students, and to develop better teaching strategies. I also had not used my one superpower, which was just to be myself.”

Chalhoub is an associate professor (teaching) in the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) and one of the 2024 3M National Teaching Fellowship Award recipients. He is one of 10 nationally — and one of two at the University of Calgary — awarded this year. The fellowship honours exceptional contributions to teaching and learning at the post-secondary level. 

Chalhoub is a specialist in small animal internal medicine, having joined UCVM in 2012, and covers a wide variety of courses in the program. In this time, he has developed new teaching and learning programs linked to major curriculum changes and been a champion of collaborative teaching with underserved and undertaught communities in mind. 

“I was certainly not a natural-born teacher,” says Chalhoub. “The first class I gave to students was on diabetes mellitus and I zoomed through 78 PowerPoint Slides in 90 minutes, with no break! I will never forget one student getting up at the end and saying ‘Well that was something!’ But the passion and determination to be better was there.”

During his career, Chalhoub has initiated and led a partnership with Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS), that brings third-year students into the community to provide free medical care for the pets of unhoused individuals or others with poverty, mental health issues or addictions. It’s an integral element of the UCVM program that Chalhoub started in 2015, now with a dedicated clinical site in Calgary that helps students gain valuable hands-on learning experiences. 

“During these learning opportunities, I try to teach our students how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, because clinical work can certainly raise discomfort when a patient is sick and we do not know what is going on,” says Chalhoub. “If we can become comfortable with this, we can better use our clinical reasoning and narrow down the possibilities to help the patient.”

In 2023, Chalhoub was part of a team developing a new fourth-year clinical rotation with the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, which has since developed into the Stoney Nakoda Animal Health Program, with funding from PetSmart Charities of Canada. The program has multiple impacts: serving the health of animals in the community, offering cultural and relationship-building opportunities for students, and opening pathways for Indigenous youth to their own careers in health sciences. 

“The students are my inspiration, hands down,” says Chalhoub. “I remember being a student and what it was like, and I hope to make their education journey as fruitful as possible while creating teaching environments that lead to long-lasting learning.”

Sign up for UToday

Sign up for UToday

Delivered to your inbox — a daily roundup of news and events from across the University of Calgary's 14 faculties and dozens of units

Thank you for your submission.