Is it time to define veterinary professionalism?

J Vet Med Educ. Spring 2012;39(1):93-100. doi: 10.3138/jvme.0411.041R1.


The medical profession has spent much time and many resources engaging in a discourse of medical professionalism and debating the appropriate attitudes and behavior of physicians, but little has been published concerning the concept of veterinary professionalism. Physicians are commonly examined by social scientists and educationalists to establish definitions of medical professionalism in order to teach and assess these values within curricula. This challenging process has not been without criticism, however, with some calling the numerous definitions unhelpful, especially when these behaviors are not demonstrated in practice or the wider sociological implications of medical professionalism are ignored. Veterinary curricula often include professional skills, and there has been some discussion about their inclusion as well as the scope of veterinary surgeons and their role in society. Despite this, no true definition of veterinary professionalism exists, and the teaching of the values and behaviors expected of veterinary professionals may not be explicit. Regardless of the difficulties of engaging in such a discourse, perhaps it is time that this occurred and a realistic and usable definition of veterinary professionalism is established. This is a period of change for the veterinary profession, and a teachable and assessable definition can provide some clarity and assist educators within ever evolving veterinary curricula.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Education, Veterinary
  • Humans
  • Physicians
  • Professional Competence*
  • Professional Practice* / standards
  • Schools, Veterinary
  • Social Values
  • Societies
  • Terminology as Topic
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Veterinarians*