Michigan State University Professor of Equine Surgery Dr. Frank Nickels Receives AAEP’s Distinguished Educator (Academic) Award


Frank Nickels, DVM, DACVS, 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, received the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ 2013 Distinguished Educator (Academic) Award.

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. Nickels was honored Dec. 10 during the President’s Luncheon at the AAEP’s 59th Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

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by reaching out to former students and other professional colleagues annually for the most current, and oftentimes unpublished, information in their field of expertise to incorporate into his slides and lectures.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.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. The AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its nearly 10,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.

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