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J Vet Med Educ. 2005 Winter;32(4):523-30.

Perceptions of the human-animal bond in veterinary education of veterinarians in Washington State: structured versus experiential learning.

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Center for the Study of Animal Well-Being and Head of People, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, PO Box 647010, Pullman, WA 99164-7010 USA.



The purpose of this research was to describe Washington private practitioners' beliefs about how the Human-Animal Bond (HAB) should be addressed in DVM curricula and continuing education.


1,602 Washington veterinarians in private practice were asked to participate in an online survey that addressed the importance of HAB and of DVM/post-DVM HAB education.


The response rate was 25.9% (415/1,602). Eighty-one percent (334/412) of respondents indicated that the HAB was important to their decisions to become veterinarians. The HAB was more important to the most recent graduates than to earliest graduates and to females than to males. Forty-four percent (184/415) of respondents considered mentoring to be the best way to learn about the HAB while in veterinary school. Of the 40% (165/415) of respondents who indicated that their veterinary schools offered structured learning on the HAB, 89% (145/163) said they had participated in it. Seven percent (29/415) indicated that entry-level veterinarians were very prepared to identify and facilitate the HAB, while 54% (224/415) said that they were somewhat prepared. Only 32% (131/415) had participated in any HAB structured learning since having started practicing, and the earliest graduates were twice as likely to have participated as the most recent graduates. More than half (55%, 223/407) disagreed or strongly disagreed that post-DVM, the best way to learn about the HAB is through structured learning. However, 83% (342/414) agreed that continuing-education credits should be given for HAB classes. Eighty-six percent (358/414) supported additional HAB research. Ninety-seven percent (402/414) agreed that the best way to learn about the HAB is through experience. These results suggest that veterinarians do not value HAB structured learning as much as experiential learning and that they are not very confident in recent graduates' abilities regarding the HAB. We propose HAB structured learning in the first three years of DVM education, complemented by the incorporation of the HAB into clinical rotations and post-DVM continuing education.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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