Student perceptions of an animal-welfare and ethics course taught early in the veterinary curriculum


Animal welfare and veterinary ethics are two subjects that have been acknowledged as necessary for inclusion in the veterinary curriculum. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education has mandated that veterinary ethics be taught to all students in US veterinary colleges. Animal welfare was recently included in the US veterinarian’s oath, and AVMA established a committee to create a model curriculum on the subject. At US veterinary colleges, the number of animal-welfare courses has more than doubled from five in 2004 to more than 10 in 2011. How and what is taught with regard to these two subjects may be as important as whether they are taught at all, and a variety of approaches and varying amounts and types of content are currently being offered on them. At Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, students were introduced to animal welfare and veterinary ethics during their first semester in a mandatory two-credit course. To assess their perception of the course, students completed an online evaluation at the end of the semester. Most students found the course to be challenging and effective and felt that they improved their ability to identify and discuss ethical dilemmas.