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What use is anatomy in first opinion small animal veterinary practice? A qualitative study

Wheble, R; Channon, S


R Wheble

S Channon


Despite the uncontested importance of anatomy as one of the foundational aspects of undergraduate veterinary programs, there is still limited information available as to what anatomy knowledge is most important for the graduate veterinarian in their daily clinical work. The aim of this study was therefore to gain a deeper understanding of the role that anatomy plays in first opinion small animal veterinary practice. Using ethnographic methodologies, we aimed to collect rich qualitative data to answer the question “How do first opinion veterinarians use anatomy knowledge in their day-to-day clinical practice?” Detailed observations and semi-structured interviews were conducted with five veterinarians working within a single small animal first opinion practice in the United Kingdom. Thematic analysis was undertaken, identifying five main themes: Importance; Uncertainty; Continuous learning; Comparative and dynamic anatomy; and Communication and language. Anatomy was found to be interwoven within all aspects of clinical practice however veterinarians were uncertain in their anatomy knowledge. This impacted their confidence and how they carried out their work. Veterinarians described continually learning and refreshing their anatomy knowledge in order to effectively undertake their role, highlighting the importance of teaching information literacy skills within anatomy curricula. An interrelationship between anatomy use, psychomotor and professional skills was also highlighted. Based on these findings, recommendations were made for veterinary anatomy curriculum development. This study provides an in-depth view within a single site small animal general practice setting: further work is required to assess the transferability of these findings to other areas of veterinary practice.


Wheble, R., & Channon, S. (in press). What use is anatomy in first opinion small animal veterinary practice? A qualitative study. Anatomical Sciences Education,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 12, 2020
Deposit Date Jun 23, 2020
Publicly Available Date Aug 13, 2020
Journal Anatomical Sciences Education
Print ISSN 1935-9772
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL
Publisher URL


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