The influence of workplace learning on attitudes toward animal welfare in veterinary students

Pollard-Williams, S.; Doyle, R.E.; Freire, R.

Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 41(3): 253-257


ISSN/ISBN: 0748-321X
PMID: 24981422
DOI: 10.3138/jvme.0114-006r1
Accession: 056385704

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Several studies suggest that veterinary students' empathy for animals declines during the years spent at university, yet the factors responsible for this change are not well understood. This study focused on the influence of workplace learning (WPL) on veterinary students' empathy for animals. WPL comprises off-campus placements and is common to all veterinary degree programs. A survey of 150 veterinary students at Charles Sturt University was conducted using an established animal-empathy scale. In general, our findings supported previous studies that empathy for animals declines between the first and fifth year and is lower in male students than in female students. Our findings indicated that specific factors relating to WPL such as pre-clinical extramural studies and clinical placements significantly influenced the students' beliefs on animal welfare. The findings presented here suggest that closer examination of the impact of WPL within the veterinary curricula is important to understanding students' changes in empathy for animals and the development of ethical principles in veterinary education.