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End-of-Life Issues in United States Veterinary Medicine Schools

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The purpose of this research endeavor was to determine the status of dying, death, and bereavement as topics within the curricula of the 28 veterinary medicine schools in the United States. Data were obtained via a mailed questionnaire (100% return rate). Results revealed that over 96% of the schools have offerings related to end-of-life issues, with 80% of students exposed to these offerings. The average number of hours students devote to end-of-life issues is 14.64, about the same as for U.S. medical and baccalaureate nursing schools. Topics covered most often are “euthanasia” and “communication with owners of dying animals.” Veterinary schools over-whelmingly note that dying, death, and bereavement are important topics. It might be helpful to veterinary medicine students if their own feelings regarding dying and death were addressed early in the curriculum and throughout class activities and clinical work. Veterinarians would likely relate better to animal guardians and to nonhuman animals themselves if they felt more comfortable with dying and death.

Affiliations: 1: College of Charleston, Email:; 2: Charleston Southern University, Email:; 3: College of Charleston, Email:


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