A proposed framework for harmonization of the veterinary medicine curriculum in Latin America



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A framework for curriculum harmonization at veterinary colleges in Latin America is proposed. The framework was developed considering the expansion of knowledge, particularly in veterinary public health. Also described are the generic or process skills for a life-long commitment to learning. The proposed core curriculum consists of four one-year academic blocks which include process skills in veterinary education, basic biology, animal health, and animal production. Each are considered fundamental disciplines crucial for successful veterinary practice in Latin America. Optional species-oriented elective blocks are also discussed. The proposed block-based core curriculum encourages curricular flexibility, and reduces the problem of information overload. The curriculum framework also promotes mobility for students, teachers, researchers, and administrators in Latin America. A qualitative approach using interviews was developed and tested. Data were collected from an extensive literature review and responses obtained from interviews with 25 veterinarians selected from Argentina (3), Bolivia (2), Chile (3), Colombia (2), Costa Rica (3), Guatemala (2), Mexico(6), and Peru (4). Several techniques were used to complement the research, among which were: note taking during interviews, triangulation, peer debriefing, and confidentiality. Adopting the proposed framework will help face current societal demands from the veterinary profession such as those skills for a more service-oriented practice that are becoming increasingly important to veterinarians. It will also enhance the competencies of trained veterinary professionals within the various branches that comprises the wide scope and diversity of veterinary practice found in Latin America. And it will increase preparation of veterinary students to cover both the broad and in-depth knowledge required to address the various veterinary fields related to the regional, national, and international societal demands in a globalized competitive world. The major conclusion from this study was that veterinary public health has become an overarching educational theme for veterinary education in Latin America. Further, the public expectation of veterinary practitioners in Latin America includes expertise not only in medicine and the animal sciences, but also in food animal production, economics, and public health. In fact, the concept of veterinary public health has become an over-arching educational theme that well characterizes veterinary education in Latin America.