AMES, Iowa – A new study on the development of an animal welfare curriculum in colleges and schools of veterinary medicine has been released by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
“A Model Curriculum for the Study of Animal Welfare in Colleges and Schools of Veterinary Medicine” was published in the March 15 issue of JAVMA, the office publication of the AVMA. Dr. Suzanne Millman, associate professor in the Departments of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, along with Dr. Linda Lord from Ohio State University, served as co-chair of the planning group comprised of international experts and as co-author of the report.
“To ensure veterinarians are better prepared to provide leadership during public discussions, there is a need to include current and consistent information about factors that affect animals’ welfare and techniques for welfare assessment in the veterinary curriculum,” Millman writes.
The study cites four key objectives for a model curriculum on animal welfare including:
- Ensure graduating veterinarians have the appropriate knowledge and skills to assess and promote good animal welfare;
- Reinforce the key role veterinarians play in ensuring the good health and welfare of animals;
- Raise awareness that animal welfare is an evolving discipline with an ever-expanding knowledge base and that continuing education is required to retain competence in the field, and;
- Promote understanding that because animal welfare issues evolve, veterinarians must have an ongoing ability to reassess these issues to continue to satisfactorily meet societal expectations.
“Veterinarians are at the forefront of animal health, but to be leaders in animal welfare, veterinarians need to be trained in this new discipline, including key components of animal behavior and animal ethics,” Millman said. “The logical place to begin that training is during their veterinary education.”
Millman says Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine is at the forefront of developing a model animal welfare curriculum. The college has a stand-alone core animal welfare course that all first-year veterinary students are required to enroll in, from which their knowledge develops throughout the program. Iowa State also offers unique animal welfare elective courses, including an animal welfare clinical rotation that attracts senior veterinary students from other colleges in the U.S. and abroad.