How can we include ethics in veterinary studies?

Johnson, J., Collins, T., Degeling, C., Fawcett, A., Fisher, A. D., Freire, R., Hazel, S. J., Hood, J., Lloyd, J., Phillips, C. J. C., Stafford, K., Tzioumis, V., & McGreevy, P. D. (2015). The First Shared Online Curriculum Resources for Veterinary Undergraduate Learning and Teaching in Animal Welfare and Ethics in Australia and New Zealand. Animals, 5, 395-406.

An online curriculum is being developed in Australia and New Zealand, to aid teaching veterinary undergraduates about Animal Welfare and Ethics. This paper assesses the importance of various methods and tools that could be used.

Animal Welfare and Ethics (AWE) is a subject that has steadily gained interest in recent years. It has been determined that veterinarians, in particular, should have an understanding of the subject. Due to this, an online curriculum has been designed to educate veterinary students in the field of AWE in Australia and New Zealand. To evaluate the usefulness of various methods and tools that could be used in the curriculum, a panel of eight experts in the field were brought together to discuss and debate each possible method in turn. After their discussions, the experts were asked individually to rank each of the ten methods in order to determine which methods should be selected for use.

Vet students prefer scenario based teaching methods

The highest ranked method overall was ‘Scenarios for Case-Based Learning’; this is already a popular tool for education. The second highest was a ‘Quality of Life Assessment’ tool; this would involve the development of an online calculator that could estimate an animal’s quality of life using various welfare factors. The ‘Human Continuum’ method, which requires students to physically stand along a line to visually display with others their views on a topic, and a ‘Negotiated Curriculum’ method, which allows students to be flexible with their study, were joint third.

Using these four key methods of teaching, a relevant and consistent online curriculum can be developed to ensure that the future generation of veterinarians are knowledgeable about animal welfare issues, and are better placed to make better decisions in the day to day life as a practicing vet.  

World Animal Protection’s view

World Animal Protection’s mission is to move the world to protect animals, and we believe veterinary professions play a big role in this. They are key to improving the lives of many animals and are responsible for helping owners become more responsible to their animals’ needs. So, we, at World Animal Protection, welcome initiatives like this which brings animal welfare and ethics training to the veterinary students, and we can provide additional resources which can help veterinary schools to teach animal welfare throughout their curriculum.