Effects of participating in the annual Animal Welfare Assessment Contest on veterinary students' self-perceived knowledge of and attitudes toward animal welfare science and their career choices

Johnson, C.L.; McKinney, L.J.; Patterson-Kane, E.G.

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256(2): 239-244

2020


ISSN/ISBN: 0003-1488
PMID: 31910087
DOI: 10.2460/javma.256.2.239
Accession: 069686371

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Abstract
To evaluate the impact of participating in the annual Animal Welfare Assessment Contest (AWJAC) on veterinary students' self-perceived knowledge of and attitudes toward animal welfare science and on participants' career choices. 46 veterinary students who participated in the AWJAC from 2014 through 2017. The study consisted of 2 parts. In part 1, a survey regarding participation in the AWJAC was emailed to all 138 veterinary students who participated in the contest from 2014 through 2017. In part 2, a self-selected subset of 4 survey respondents were interviewed by telephone regarding their AWJAC experience. Forty-six of 138 (33%) AWJAC participants responded to the online survey. When respondents were asked to rate the attitudes they held before and after participating in the AWJAC, significant increases were identified for engaging with animal welfare topics in their professional decision-making, making career choices based on their interest in animal welfare, and having their interest in animal welfare shape their professional career choices. Analysis of telephone interview transcripts revealed 3 major themes regarding AWJAC participation: defining animal welfare, the value of networking, and professional preparedness. Results suggested that participation in the AWJAC heightened veterinary students' self-perceived awareness of animal welfare science, provided participants an opportunity to expand their professional networks, and prepared participants for entrance into the veterinary profession by enhancing communication and critical thinking skills.