Fostering the Development of Professionalism in Veterinary Students: Challenges and Implications for Veterinary Professionalism Curricula

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MDPI (Basel, Switzerland)
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The importance of professional skills teaching and assessment within veterinary education has recently been highlighted in the veterinary education literature. This academic discourse follows the acknowledgement by both veterinary employers and graduates themselves that new graduates often lack the professional skills and attitudes needed for success in clinical veterinary practice. Traditionally, veterinary curricula have focused solely on teaching content knowledge and clinical skills; however, veterinary education curricula clearly must also contain dedicated instruction in veterinary professionalism. This must include instruction in communication skills, emotional intelligence, cultural awareness, teamwork abilities, dispute resolution strategies and the awareness that multiple approaches may be required to resolve challenges. It has become unrealistic to expect students to rely on observation and role modelling to foster the development of professionalism. There is a need to incorporate explicit learning activities that reinforce the knowledge, attitudes, values, and behaviours that characterise veterinary professionalism. While role modelling remains a key aspect of the veterinary professionalism learning that takes place through the informal/hidden curriculum, many students have often had more experiences with negative role models than with positive ones. This can lead to the development of a tolerance or normalisation of negative behaviours and a decline in students’ perceptions of professionalism. This article aims to continue recent conversations on professional skills teaching within veterinary education, define what is meant by veterinary professionalism and consider the plethora of terminology used when trying to establish a definition, highlight those attributes of veterinary professionalism deemed important by veterinary stakeholders for career success and employability, and explore the challenges of incorporating the teaching and assessment of professional traits into veterinary education.
Gordon S, Gardner D, Weston J, Bolwell C, Benschop J, Parkinson T. (2021). Fostering the development of professionalism in veterinary students: Challenges and implications for veterinary professionalism curricula. Education Sciences. 11. 11.