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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies : Veterinary Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Ethics for Veterinary Clinicians and Researchers (VESC11254)

Course Outline
SchoolRoyal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course begins with an introduction to professional clinical and animal ethics before applying both to a range of situations which veterinary surgeons and, or others working with animals in a clinical capacity may find themselves facing. A leaning towards ethics as they affect veterinary anaesthesia, peri-operative medicine and analgesia does not preclude the course relevance to other areas. Complex clinical ethical dilemmas, such as the over-treatment of companions animals, euthanasia and the use of client-owned animals for clinical research purposes will be covered. The use of animals in biomedical research and publication ethics will also be featured.
Course description Perceived advances in several veterinary specialities are increasing the gap between the application of these "advances" in animal patients and their approval by peers within the veterinary profession. This situation is aggravated, at least in the UK, by the grey zone that exists between the Veterinary Surgeon's Act and the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act. In addition, there are increasing pressures for veterinary researchers to use client-owned animals in their projects. These challenges are creating increasing confusion and polarisation within the profession.

The advances in veterinary medicine and surgery that have occurred over the last few decades have been made possible by parallel advances in veterinary anaesthesia and analgesia. However, ethical concerns have been identified with many of these so-called advances, often by veterinarians themselves. This leads to moral conflict between those who do, and those who do not approve of these "advances". Often these tensions re-ignite the "captain of the ship" syndrome that affected the medical specialities, i.e., surgery and anaesthesia, in previous times. Veterinary anaesthetists, having a tendency to prioritize concerns with the subjects of pain, analgesia and quality of life, are at risk of moral clashes with those with whom they work, but who have a different list of priorities.

Increasingly, veterinary nurses and other forms of animal therapists are involved in animal patient management which sets up another potential strata for moral tensions when ethically challenging situations arise.

The "reproducibility" crisis in science is in part the result of problems with the current way animal research is reported. The course will also examine some of these concerns.

This course intends to introduce the participant to general ethical principles applied to clinical situations. It is hoped that the course will also provide insight into ethical dilemmas commonly found in modern veterinary practice to all professionals working with veterinary species.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Flexible
Course Start Date 05/08/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Summative feedback will be provided on assessments.

Formative feedback to students via discussion boards.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. discuss ethics associated with clinical practice, particularly those associated with anaesthesia, analgesia and quality of life in veterinary patients undergoing for highly invasive procedures
  2. demonstrate an awareness of the legal and ethical framework around clinical practice, research practice and publications
  3. present ethical arguments with appropriate justifications in welfare related situations, particularly where euthanasia is a treatment option
  4. demonstrate an understanding of approaches to ethical problem solving and discuss ethics and the applications of ethical thinking to clinical practice
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsVeterinary Ethics,Clinical,Research,Veterinary Anaesthesia
Course organiserProf Richard Eddie Clutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 6220
Course secretaryMr Stephen Mitchell
Tel: (0131 6)51 7112
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