Approved by the CVM faculty on 2/3/2003
The Washington State University Regents confer a Doctor of
Veterinary Medicine degree only after a student has mastered the coherent
body of knowledge and skills that comprises the veterinary curriculum to the
satisfaction of the faculty. The faculty will expect each veterinary student
to demonstrate proficiency in the use and understanding of principles and
facts related to the basic sciences and in the application of these
principles to the practice of clinical medicine. There are certain qualities
and skills that students must possess and/or refine to accomplish these
things. These essential qualities include: ethical, attitudinal, behavioral,
and emotional attributes, stamina, intellectual (cognitive, integrative, and
quantitative abilities) capacity, communication skills, and the visual,
auditory, tactile acuity and motor skills necessary to function as a health
care professional. The following guidelines are meant to familiarize
students with the expectations of the faculty, as well as some of the
inherent demands of our veterinary curriculum. Judgments about whether a
student has failed to meet any of these standards will be made in the
context of the due process procedures outlined in the Procedural Guidelines
section of this document.
Ethical, Attitudinal, Behavioral, and Emotional Attributes
Because the medical profession is governed by ethical principles and by
state and federal laws, a veterinary student must have the capacity to
understand, learn, and abide by these values and laws. Examples of breaches
of veterinary medical ethics include, but are not limited to:
- cheating, plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty;
- falsifying medical records or certificates;
- willfully withholding medical treatments ordered by a clinician;
- betraying a client confidence; or
- animal cruelty, whether acts of commission or omission.
A veterinary student must be able to relate to
instructors, classmates, staff, clients and their animals with honesty,
compassion, empathy, integrity, and dedication.
- A veterinary student must not allow
considerations of religion, ethnicity, gender,
sexual orientation, politics or social standing
to preclude productive and constructive
relationships with instructors, staff,
classmates, or clients;
- A veterinary student must not allow
considerations of breeds or species to influence
their relationships with their patients or
teaching animals. For example, a student must
never intentionally withhold medical care from a
feline patient out of a dislike or distrust of
A veterinary student must be able to understand and use the authority,
special privileges, and trust inherent in the veterinary student-client
relationship for the benefit of both the client and the patient and avoid
behaviors that constitute misuse of this power.
A veterinary student must never compromise care of an animal that has
been left in their care or is their responsibility, regardless of whether
this care conflicts with personal schedules or activities. A veterinary
student must never engage in educational activities while under the
influence of alcohol or non-prescribed, illicit drugs. In addition, a
student should not engage in patient care duties while impaired in any
manner by any substance (i.e., even prescribed drugs that are known to
A veterinary student must never perform any action that might be
construed as the practice of veterinary medicine, except as permitted under
the laws of a state in which the student may function in the role of
providing animal health care under the direction of a licensed veterinarian.
A veterinary student must be of sufficient behavioral and emotional
health to fully utilize his/her intellectual ability, to exercise good
judgment, to complete patient care responsibilities promptly and properly,
and to relate to patients, their owners, staff and colleagues with courtesy,
compassion, maturity, and respect for their dignity.
A veterinary student must be able to work collaboratively and flexibly as
a professional team member.
A veterinary student must behave in a professional manner in spite of
stressful work demands, changing environments, and clinical uncertainties.
A veterinary student must have the capacity to modify behavior in
response to constructive criticism.
A veterinary student must be open to examining personal attitudes,
perceptions, and stereotypes that may negatively impact patient care and
An individual with a diagnosed psychiatric disorder may function as a
veterinary student as long as the condition is under sufficient control to
enable them to achieve the programmatic expectations of the college.
While the above-referenced emotional/psychological abilities are
essential requirements, documented emotional/psychiatric and/or
psychological disabilities recognized by applicable law shall be reasonably
The study and ongoing practice of medicine often involves taxing
workloads and stressful situations. A veterinary student must have the
physical and emotional stamina to maintain a high level of function in the
face of these likely working conditions.
A veterinary student must possess a range of intellectual skills that
allows him/her to master the broad and complex body of knowledge that
comprises a medical education at a level deemed to be appropriate by the
faculty. These skills include the ability:
- to comprehend dimensional and spatial relationships of structure
- perform scientific measurements and calculations
- to develop reasoning, problem solving and decision-making skills
appropriate to the practice of veterinary medicine.
A veterinary student's reasoning abilities must be sufficiently
sophisticated to analyze and synthesize information from a wide variety of
sources. He/she must be able to learn effectively through a variety of
modalities including, but not limited to:
- class room instruction;
- small group discussion and interactive assignments, including participation in medical rounds, and goal-directed activities;
- individual study of materials;
- preparation and presentation of written and oral reports;
- ability to learn independently from reading/printed material;
- use of computer technology.
Throughout the curriculum, a veterinary student will be expected
to communicate effectively and efficiently with instructors, staff,
and peers through written and oral means.
During the clinical year, a veterinary student must also learn to
communicate with clients. Communication with a client often begins
with the gathering and writing of a useful medical history. Students
must be able to formulate and ask clients cogent questions,
perceptively interpret their answers, and record these responses
accurately in a clear and concise medical record. While mastery of
both written and spoken English is considered to be an essential
attribute, veterinary students with documented hearing, speech and
other pertinent disabilities will be reasonably accommodated in
accordance with law.
Visual, Auditory, Tactile and Motor Competency
A veterinary student must possess sufficient visual, auditory, tactile,
and motor abilities to allow him/her to gather data from written reference
material, including medical illustrations and graphic materials, from oral
presentations, from demonstrations and experiments, from observations of
clinical procedures performed by others, from computerized representations
of physiologic phenomena, and from observations made during a basic physical
examination and/or more specialized (e.g. orthopedic and neurologic)
examinations of a patient.
A veterinary student must also be capable of eliciting and perceiving
normal findings or signs of disease as manifested through the physical
examination. Examples of findings that must be perceived and interpreted
include, but are not limited to, the sounds emitted by the heart,
intestines, and lungs; assessing the pliability and turgor of the skin;
recognizing subtle changes in the hair coat; feeling the difference between
a lipoma, a cyst, and a lymph node; evaluating the integrity and range of
motion of musculoskeletal structures (bones, muscles, joints) of all the
domestic animal species; and evaluating the consistency and/or distention of
various intra-abdominal structures (for example, liver, spleen, intestines,
kidneys, and reproductive organs), which must be accomplished through a
combination of visualization and external and/or internal palpation.
A veterinary student must be able to distinguish subtle shades of black,
white and gray as these pertain to the five radiographic densities in films
of the chest, abdomen, and extremities.
A veterinary student must be able to grasp, manipulate, and employ
surgical instruments, like scalpels, clamps, and retractors, or other
specialized instruments, such as ophthalmoscopes.
A veterinary student must be able to manipulate tissues and employ
devices in order to perform entry-level procedures; examples are
venipuncture, vascular and urinary catheter placement, rectal palpation, and
expressing anal sacs.
While mastery of the above competencies is an essential attribute,
veterinary students with disability (disabilities) shall be reasonably
accommodated in accordance with law.
In order to receive an accommodation for any of these essential
requirements, students must contact the
WSU Access Center
Approved by the CVM faculty on 2/3/2003