Importance of welfare and ethics competence regarding animals kept for scientific purposes to veterinary students in Australia and New Zealand

Collins, Teresa, Cornish, Amelia, Hood, Jennifer, Degeling, Christopher, Fisher, Andrew D., Freire, Rafael, Hazel, Susan J., Johnson, Jane, Lloyd, Janice K.F., Philips, Clive J., Tzioumis, Vicky, and Mcgreevy, Paul D. (2018) Importance of welfare and ethics competence regarding animals kept for scientific purposes to veterinary students in Australia and New Zealand. Veterinary Sciences, 5 (3). 66.

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Veterinarians are in a strong position of social influence on animal-related issues. Hence, veterinary schools have an opportunity to raise animal health and welfare standards by improving veterinary students’ animal welfare and ethics (AWE) education, including that related to animals used for scientific purposes. A survey of 851 students in the early, mid, and senior stages of their courses at all eight veterinary schools across Australia and New Zealand was undertaken on their first day of practice (or Day One Competences) to explore how veterinary students viewed the importance of their competence in the management of welfare and ethical decision-making relating to animals kept for scientific purposes. From highest to lowest, the rankings they assigned were: Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) Procedures or Requirements;3Rs (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction);Humane Endpoints; Euthanasia; “What Is a Research Animal?”;and Conscientious Objections. Female students rated Conscientious Objections, Humane Endpoints, and Euthanasia significantly higher than male students did across the three stages of study. The score patterns for these three variates showed a trend for the male students to be more likely to score these topics as extremely important as they advanced through the course, but female students’ scores tended to decline slightly or stay relatively stable. No gender differences emerged for the three variates: 3Rs (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction); AEC Procedures or Requirements; and “What Is a Research Animal?”. This study demonstrates that understandings of the regulatory and normative frameworks are considered most important in animal welfare and ethics competence in veterinary students. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to investigate what importance veterinary students place on their competence regarding animals kept for scientific purposes.

Item ID: 54517
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2306-7381
Keywords: animal welfare; veterinary education; Day One Competence; gender; veterinary ethics; humane endpoint; 3Rs; research animals; euthanasia; conscientious objection
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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

Funders: Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT)
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2018 05:33
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3009 Veterinary sciences > 300999 Veterinary sciences not elsewhere classified @ 50%
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390199 Curriculum and pedagogy not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9303 Curriculum > 930302 Syllabus and Curriculum Development @ 80%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences @ 20%
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