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Vet. Sci. 2018, 5(3), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci5030066

Importance of Welfare and Ethics Competence Regarding Animals Kept for Scientific Purposes to Veterinary Students in Australia and New Zealand

1
School of Veterinary and Life Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia
2
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
3
Research for Social Change, Faculty of Social Science, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
4
Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
5
School of Animal and Veterinary Science, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia
6
School of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, SA 5005, Australia
7
Department of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia
8
College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Science, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
9
School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 June 2018 / Revised: 2 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 14 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Educating the Future of Veterinary Science and Medicine)
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Abstract

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 818 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; veterinary education; Day One Competence; gender; veterinary ethics; humane endpoint; 3Rs; research animals; euthanasia; conscientious objection animal welfare; veterinary education; Day One Competence; gender; veterinary ethics; humane endpoint; 3Rs; research animals; euthanasia; conscientious objection
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Collins, T.; Cornish, A.; Hood, J.; Degeling, C.; Fisher, A.D.; Freire, R.; Hazel, S.J.; Johnson, J.; Lloyd, J.K.F.; Phillips, C.J.; Tzioumis, V.; McGreevy, P.D. Importance of Welfare and Ethics Competence Regarding Animals Kept for Scientific Purposes to Veterinary Students in Australia and New Zealand. Vet. Sci. 2018, 5, 66.

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