Should you treat or euthanise the feral cat presenting with a complex humeral fracture? It is well recognised that repeated exposure to challenging ethical conflicts may negatively affect our emotional well-being - the phenomenon of 'moral distress' will be familiar to many.
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Usually our training and intelligence help us make good decisions. But sometimes we find it harder or stressful to make decisions, or to articulate our ethical views to owners and colleagues. Often we feel guilty or uncertain afterwards, and wonder if we made the right choice.
Although practical reasoning is something we do very regularly indeed, veterinary professionals are already experienced in making difficult decisions in complex, pressured situations , applying ethical concepts in veterinary work can seem daunting. An additional complication is that there are competing views surrounding animal ethics in our society.
It is easy to imagine how differing moral positions on such issues can give rise to conflicts between veterinary professionals and their clients, or within veterinary teams. Although specific training in ethical reasoning is now offered in veterinary education, it is a relatively recent development, and many experienced vets have had no specific ethics tuition.
It has been said that asking vets to engage in ethical reasoning without any formal training is like asking them to do surgery without telling them how to hold the tools. Nevertheless, training in ethical reasoning is not about telling you what to do. Instead, the goal is to equip professionals with the skills to consider their cases in helpful ways and make good decisions that they are comfortable with. In this sort of training we avoid technical ethical language, or citing famous philosophers. Instead we present ways you may think about ethical dilemmas, initially or after reflection, and consider how those views could be challenged, supported and ultimately how actions may be justified.
We all want to make better decisions so we can achieve more, influence others and feel better - ethical skills can help to achieve this. The course will cover ethical decision making in practice, practical assessment of animal welfare and quality of life and application of animal welfare legislation to welfare cases.
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