The current VIN date & time: Eastern

VIN Veterinary Ethics (PRAC116) Self Study

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

Presenters: Carol Morgan DVM, PhD (Posthumous 1964-2015)
Raymond Anthony, PhD
Kathleen Cooney, DVM, CHPV, CCFP
Jennifer Woolf, DVM, MS (Veterinary Forensics)
Course Open: July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023
Total CE Credit: 16
RACE Category: 16 hours Non-Medical

Enrollment is closed.  

Tuition: VIN/VSPN Member $368
Prices are listed in US dollars.

Course Information:
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.

To earn a certificate of completion the participant must complete all 8 learning modules and score 80% or better on each of the module quizzes. Completion of the course will take a minimum of 1598 minutes. Participants must complete the participation requirements by June 30, 2023 to be eligible for a certificate.

To learn more about the requirements for earning a Self Study CE certificate, please refer to Self Study CE Certificate Requirements.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of the course, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • understand how ethics relates to the veterinary/client relationship.
  • understand informed consent - standards of comprehension, standards of disclosure, and client competence.
  • understand when it is acceptable to break client confidentiality and how it should be done.
  • recognize why are medical records so important.
  • understand who has ownership of information.
  • understand how to include non-medical facts within medical records.
  • discuss the concept of professional responsibility with regards to:
    • provision of care
    • pro-bono work - is a lower level of care acceptable?
    • providing at least minimal care in emergency situations - to client's animals, to any animal
    • cosmetic procedures, behavioral surgeries (i.e., declawing, debarking)
    • pain management ethics - is pain management optional in your clinic? What to do when clients refuse at-home pain management?
    • quality of life - who is best at determining the interests of the patient - the owner or the veterinarian?
    • 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?
  • perform procedures competently and within the scope of practice.
  • understand when is it acceptable to perform a procedure that you are not sure you are competent to perform.
  • understand when it is appropriate to refer to specialists, and how to handle referred clients/patients.
  • understand how second opinions should be handled.
  • understand how to react to evidence of professional incompetence of a colleague.
  • understand how and what is appropriate to delegate to non-veterinary staff.
  • understand how to address and manage medical errors.
  • 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.

Level and Prerequisites: This basic VIN CE self-study course is open for enrollment to veterinarians and veterinary technicians actively interested in developing the tools to work through ethically challenging situations. This course is open to VIN and VSPN members only.
Accreditation: This non-interactive course is approved for 16 hours of continuing education credit by RACE for veterinarians and veterinary technicians/technologists. (RACE 20-887594)

Course Agenda:

Module 1: Veterinary Ethics - The Basics
Total Time: 140 minutes
Video: 58 minutes
Handouts: 72 minutes
Quiz: 10 minutes

Module 2: Moral Development and Moral Decision Making
Total Time: 106 minutes
Video: 66 minutes
Handouts: 29 minutes
Quiz: 10 minutes
Polls: 4

Module 3: Professional Ethics
Total Time: 158 minutes
Video: 83 minutes
Handouts: 65 minutes
Quiz: 10 minutes
Polls: 3

Module 4: Responsibilities to Clients
Total Time: 146 minutes
Video: 101 minutes
Handouts: 45 minutes
Quiz: 10 minutes
Polls: 9

Module 5: Patient Centered Ethics
Total Time: 158 minutes
Video: 88 minutes
Handouts: 60 minutes
Quiz: 10 minutes
Polls: 11

Module 6: Patient Centered Ethics Part 2
Total Time: 148 minutes
Video: 83 minutes
Handouts: 55 minutes
Quiz: 10 minutes
Polls: 4

Module 7: Competence and Referral Ethics
Total Time: 110 minutes
Video: 70 minutes
Handouts: 30 minutes
Quiz: 10 minutes
Polls: 11

Module 8: Business Ethics
Total Time: 82 minutes
Video: 62 minutes
Handouts: 10 minutes
Quiz: 10 minutes
Polls: 10

Module 9: End of Course Test
Total Time: 5 minutes
Successful completion (scoring 80% or better) on the end-of-course test is required to earn a certificate of completion for the course.

Module 10: Course Evaluation

To learn more about the requirements for earning a Self Study CE certificate, please refer to Self Study CE Certificate Requirements.

Enrollment is closed.  

Tuition: VIN/VSPN Member $368
Prices are listed in US dollars.

*For more information on how online CE works, see the Participant Resource Center.

Enrollment qualifications for Self Study CE:
  1. VIN CE Courses:
    1. VIN CE courses are open to VIN members.
    2. Veterinary support staff must be VSPN members in order to enroll in a VIN CE course open to VSPN member enrollment.
  2. VSPN CE Courses:
    1. VSPN CE courses are open to veterinary support staff and veterinarians.
    2. Only VIN and VSPN members can enroll in a VSPN CE course.
    3. Veterinarians will only receive credit for those VSPN CE courses that specify in the Accreditation statement that the course is accredited for veterinarians.
  3. Please check the course Level and Prerequisites, Accreditation, and Tuition before enrolling.
  4. Each enrollee must be able to receive emails from and addresses.
    1. Email is our major form of communication with participants; personal emails are highly recommended rather than clinic/hospital email addresses.
  5. 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.

Course withdrawal and refund policy: A complete refund of the paid course price will be issued when your withdrawal request is received prior to starting the course. If you wish to withdraw after you have started this self-study course, please contact the VSPN 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