Introducing clinical behavioral medicine to veterinary students with real clients and pets: A required class activity and an optional workshop

Nia Rametta, Brittany Perfetto, Zul Castro, Kiersten Campbell, Elizabeth Tyler, Priscilla Pozo, Abigail Thigpen, Anne M. Corrigan, Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Addressing behavior problems in clinical practice requires diagnostic expertise as well as excellent client skills in communication, gained by experience. This issue was addressed by introducing clinical behavior to first-year veterinary students. The program was implemented over four successive terms (2017-2019) at St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine. The clinical practice hour was introduced after a brief first-year clinical behavior course (7 lectures). Students were divided into 6-8 person teams. In a class demonstration with a student and his/her dog having behavior problems, two students served as clinicians; a third student, as a scribe, recorded case details. They discussed signalment, history, presenting problems, and possible treatment approaches for 25 minutes; then, the class divided into the assigned teams to develop their specific treatment plans and write up and submit team case reports. During each term, the student Animal Welfare and Behavior Committee organized an optional behavior workshop (enrollment was 24 veterinary students from years 1 through 3). Participation in the workshop included an introductory session and two clinical sessions. Four dog and/or cat cases were scheduled for each of the two sessions. Six students addressed each case: Three students were lead clinicians. Workshop evenings concluded with a discussion of all cases. Students were presented a certificate of completion. Students gained early experience in clinical communication, behavior problems, and case write-ups. The abundance of students' pets with behavior problems made this a context that simplified recruiting real cases, but variations could be adapted as appropriate in other communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-426
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of veterinary medical education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Animal behavior
  • Animal welfare
  • Clinical science
  • Communications
  • Curriculum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • veterinary(all)


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