VIN PRAC116-2018: Veterinary Ethics

This course is a self-paced, non-interactive course.

Enrollment is closed.
Presenter: Carol Morgan DVM, PhD (Posthumous) and Raymond Anthony PhD
Course Open: November 1, 2018-December 31, 2019

Level and Prerequisites: This basic course is aimed at small animal practitioners in private practice who have encountered ethical dilemmas and have an interest in developing the tools to work through ethically challenging situations.
VIN CE Course: Open to VIN members. This non-interactive course is approved by RACE for veterinarians. (RACE 22-34931)

Course Description:
Ethically challenging situations are very common in veterinary medicine. Yet, unlike many other professions, veterinarians often receive very little formal training in ethics, ethical theory, and the process of making moral decisions. Understanding ethical theory and its applications can make it easier to stay out of trouble with clients and regulators. It can also help to stimulate dialogue about ethical issues amongst colleagues and veterinary team members. Learn the ground rules for engaging in ethical discussion and how to look at your practice policies and interactions with colleagues and staff in a new way.

This course will consist of 8 non-interactive modules. Each module will have a video lesson that includes a few poll questions, and supplemental learning materials which are intended to help the participant retain the information provided.

To earn a certificate of completion, the participant must complete all 8 modules and pass the end-of-course test. A course evaluation is also provided so that course participants can comment on the effectiveness of the learning module and offer suggestions for improvement. Completion of all 8 modules (videos, reading handouts and end-of-course test) will take a minimum of 16 hours to complete. Participants must complete the participation requirements by December 31, 2019 to be eligible for a certificate.

Course Outline: Module 1: The Basics
Total Time: 55 minutes
Video: 52 minutes
Polls: 3 minutes
Objectives: Upon completion of this session, the participant should be able to
  • Understand 'ethics' as a formal discipline
  • Recognize Differences between 'ethics' and 'morality' and other areas such as law, religion, sociology, and personal opinion.
  • Understand the main ethical theories, recognize them, and understand how you use them when making an ethical argument.
Module 2: Moral Development and Moral Decision Making
Total Time: 75 minutes
Video: 66 minutes
Handouts: 5 minutes
Polls: 4 minutes
Objectives: Upon completion of this session, the participant should be able to
  • Understand the different facets of making moral decisions.
  • Develop the skills necessary to recognize all of the ethical issues in a situation.
  • Develop the skills necessary to manage ethical problems, including using various tools to resolve ethical problems.
Module 3: Professional Ethics
Total Time: 105 minutes
Video: 62 minutes
Handouts: 40 minutes
Polls: 3 minutes
Objectives: Upon completion of this session, the participant should be able to
  • Understand the scope of professional responsibilities and the responsibilities of individual professionals.
  • Understand the importance of trust in professional relations.
  • Utilize professional tenets relating to veterinary medicine and other professions.
  • Understand how character traits and behaviors contribute to fiduciary relationships.
Module 4: Responsibilities to Clients
Total Time: 159 minutes
Video: 86 minutes
Handouts: 65 minutes
Polls: 8 minutes
Objectives: Upon completion of this session, the participant should be able to
  • Understand how ethics relates to the veterinary/client relationship.
  • Be aware of informed consent - standards of comprehension, standards of disclosure, and client competence.
  • Know when it is acceptable to break client confidentiality and how should it be done.
  • Recognize why are medical records so important.
  • Understand who has ownership of information.
  • Know how to include non-medical facts within medical records.
Module 5: Patient Centered Ethics
Total Time: 184 minutes
Video: 86 minutes
Handouts: 87 minutes
Polls: 11 minutes
Objectives: Upon completion of this session, the participant should be able to answer the following questions as they relate to patient centered ethics:
  • Provision of Care - Do veterinarians have a responsibility to provide care?
  • Is pro-bono work a professional responsibility for veterinarians? Is lower level care acceptable?
  • Do veterinarians have an obligation to provide at least minimal care in emergency situations - to client's animals? To any animal?
  • Non-Therapeutic Procedures: Are cosmetics procedures acceptable? What are veterinarians' responsibilities with respect to behavioral surgeries (e.g. declaws, debarks).
  • Pain Management Ethics: Is pain management optional in your clinic? What should be done when clients refuse at-home pain management?
Module 6: Patient Centered Ethics Continued
Total Time: 221 minutes
Video: 86 minutes
Handouts: 130 minutes
Polls: 5 minutes
Objectives: Upon completion of this session, the participant should be able to answer the following questions as they relate to patient centered ethics:
  • Quality of life: What responsibilities do veterinarians have about patient quality of life? Are veterinarians or animal owners best at determining the interests of a patient?
  • End-of-life issues; Who should decide if euthanasia is appropriate? Is it acceptable to let ill patients die a natural death? If so, how should this be managed?
Module 7: Competence and Referral Ethics
Total Time: 146 minutes
Video: 80 minutes
Handouts: 55 minutes
Polls: 11 minutes
Objectives: Upon completion of this session, the participant should:
  • Be able to perform procedures competently and within the scope of practice.
  • Know when is it acceptable to perform a procedure that you are not sure you are competent to perform.
  • Know when it is appropriate to refer to specialists and how to handle referred clients/patients.
  • Know how second opinions should be handled.
  • Know how to react to evidence of professional incompetence of a colleague.
  • Know how and what is appropriate to delegate to non-veterinary staff.
  • Know how to address and manage medical errors.
Module 8: Professional Ethics
Total Time: 76 minutes
Video: 51 minutes
Handouts: 15 minutes
Polls: 10 minutes
Objectives: Upon completion of this session, the participant should be able to
  • Understand the ethics around prescribing and dispensing.
  • Avoid conflicts of interest in business relationships (i.e. with Pet Stores, Suppliers).
  • Understand their responsibilities in Advertising/Social Media.
Successful completion (scoring 80% or better) on the end-of-course test is required to earn a certificate of completion for the course. To learn more about the requirements for earning a non-interactive CE certificate, please refer to Non-Interactive CE Certificate Requirements.

Course Materials: Course materials in the form of handouts and additional educational online activities will be available in the course library.

Required Textbook(s): There is no required textbook for this course.

About the Presenter:
Carol Morgan graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, in 1988. She obtained a PhD in 2009 from the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) in Interdisciplinary Studies through the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics and the UBC Animal Welfare Program. Her doctoral research focused on moral decision making by veterinarians with respect to animal welfare decisions. She has given lectures on ethics to students and practitioners both nationally and internationally and written articles on the topic. Dr. Morgan sat on the College of Veterinarians of BC (CVBC) disciplinary committee (tasked with deliberating breaches to provincial veterinary regulations) and was involved in developing animal welfare standards at the national level. She was a past editor and historian for the Society of Veterinary Medical Ethics. Dr. Carol Morgan past away November 7, 2015, after a nearly successful campaign against cancer.

Raymond Anthony is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alaska Anchorage, USA. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from Purdue University. His areas of specialization include Ethical Theory and Environmental Philosophy (especially the nexus between environmental-animal-agricultural-food ethics), and the philosophy of technology. His current research interests in these areas deal with social justice, participatory democracy, obligations to future generations and non-human animals. Dr. Anthony has an international reputation for his expertise in bioethical issues in the areas specified above. Dr. Anthony also teaches philosophy of mind and philosophy of science courses. Dr. Anthony is ethics advisor for the American Veterinary Medical Association's Panel on Euthanasia, Panel on Humane Slaughter, and Animal Welfare Committee and is a former council member for Agriculture, Food and Human Values. Dr. Anthony is part of an inter-institutional team that was awarded an USDA grant to develop teaching aids for animal welfare ethics education. One of his current projects includes a report for the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) on the Well-being of Agricultural Animals. You can learn more about Dr. Anthony at: He can be reached at

Total CE Credit: 16

Tuition: $368
Prices are listed in US dollars.

*Enrollment will close on December 1, 2019 at 5 pm ET (USA).
*For more information on how online CE works, see the Participant Resource Center.

To Enroll:
  1. Enrollment qualifications: VIN CE courses are open to VIN member veterinarians. Veterinarians enrolling in a VSPN CE course must be a VIN member. Veterinary support staff must be a VSPN member to enroll in a VSPN CE or a VIN CE course open to VSPN member enrollment.
  2. Each enrollee must be able to receive emails from and addresses. Email is our major form of communication with participants; personal emails are highly recommended rather than clinic/hospital email addresses.
  3. Each person is individually responsible for his/her own registration. To ensure that all information received is secure and correct, please do not enroll for a course on behalf of another individual.
  4. For further assistance call 800-846-0028 ext. 797 or email . Please include the course title, your full name, and contact information in your correspondence.
Enrollment is closed.

"This program (22-34931) is approved by the AAVSB RACE to offer a total of 16 CE Credits, with a maximum of 16 CE Credits being available to any individual veterinarian. This RACE approval is for the subject matter categories of: Non-Scientific-Clinical, using the delivery method of Non-Interactive-Distance: (Online, Correspondence, Journal or Other Self-Study). This approval is valid in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB RACE; however, participants are responsible for ascertaining each board's CE requirements."

Course withdrawal and refund policy: A complete refund of the paid course price will be issued when your withdrawal request is received prior to the listed start date of the course. If you wish to withdraw after the start date please contact the VIN office 800-846-0028 ext. 797 to discuss eligibility for a pro-rated refund.

*For more information on VIN's upcoming CE courses, check the VIN Course Catalog.

Katherine James, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (SAIM)
VIN Education Director

VIN CE Services:
800-846-0028 or 530-756-4881; ext. 797
or direct line to VIN/VSPN from the United Kingdom: 01 45 222 6154
or direct line to VIN/VSPN from Australia: 02 6145 2357