The introduction of a cultural competence curriculum as part of veterinaryscience studies has been put forward by a team at the University of Sydney.

The cultural competence curriculum, which is already in use at University ofSydney’s School of Veterinary Science, is of particular interest to Australiawhich has one of the highest rates of pet ownership and is also one of themost multicultural nations.

The world-first project, worked on by Associate Professor Jaime Gongora andcolleagues, would see potential veterinarians look at different culturalperspectives when dealing with clients.

“Veterinarians work with culturally and linguistically diverse teams, clients,and communities. Despite this, there is little focus on this as a competencyand in an educational setting. Cultural perspectives on animals anddifferences in communication, consultation and engagement protocols caninfluence relationships, impacting animal health, welfare, and researchoutcomes,” said Gongora.

A client’s background can impact the in which they view animals, whether thatbe as a source of companionship, food, entertainment, or religiously orculturally significant.

The project has been in progress since 2012, with a key component towardsAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, with Aboriginal knowledgeholders teaching students about the complexity of totems and skin names andhow these relate to responsibility for animals.

Associate Professor and Project co-author, Sanaa Zaki, said unconscious biasis also addressed in the curriculum as well as effective communication stylestowards different groups of people.

“Bringing awareness to students about unconscious bias and how this can impacttheir clinical decision making helps them develop empathy and respect forthose that view animals differently and informs how they communicate withculturally diverse clients.”

Gongora said that informal feedback from students has revealed that theprogram has fostered rich discussions, respectful interactions, and anopportunity for growth through exposure to a diversity of ideas.

“What we have done since 2012 is develop a model framework for veterinaryschools and other disciplines in animal science that seek to recognise thatcultural competence is everyone’s business.”

Tagged: Vet, Veterinary

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