Ethics and Values Program: Curriculum

The following are the core Ethics and Values courses in the DVM curriculum.

Human-Animal Relationships
Founded in the 1980's by Dr. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence, a distinguished veterinarian, anthropologist, and student of the relationship between humans and animals. This course introduces first year DVM students to the many social and cultural contexts in which people and animals interact and how diverse value systems influence our ideas of animal welfare. This class establishes the broad context of veterinary education at the Cummings School and prepares students to think about how social trends will influence their careers in veterinary medicine.
Law and Veterinary Medicine
This course introduces second year DVM students to the basics of the legal system, and explores topics of particular relevance to veterinarians and veterinary practice, including malpractice, animal cruelty and professional responsibility.
Ethics and Veterinary Medicine
In this course, third year DVM students learn to apply principles of ethical reasoning to decision-making in veterinary practice in the clinic, animal shelter, laboratory, farm and other settings. Throughout this course, students are encouraged to search out their own ethical values, consider multiple sides of an issue and respectfully hear the opinions of colleagues.
Euthanasia Workshop
Third year DVM students also take an intensive lecture-discussion workshop that addresses appropriate methods of euthanasia, situations in which euthanasia is utilized, ethical implications of euthanasia, and the emotional aspects of euthanasia as they relate to client, staff and veterinarian grief.
Ethics Case Study
In this small-group seminar, convened during fourth year clinical rotations, all DVM students are asked to present to classmates and a faculty facilitator the ethical dimension of a case that they themselves have handled or observed. The course helps student recognize that the broad issues of professional and social ethics are closely intertwined with daily practice.