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Anatomy in practice: how do equine and production animal veterinarians apply anatomy in primary care settings?

Homfray, Ben; Attwood, Ali; Channon, Sarah B


Ben Homfray

Ali Attwood

Sarah B Channon


To successfully prepare veterinary undergraduates for the workplace, it is critical that anatomy educators consider the context in which developing knowledge and skills will be applied. This study aimed to establish how farm animal and equine general practitioners use anatomy and related skills within their daily work. Qualitative ethnographic data in the form of observations and semi-structured interviews were collected from 12 veterinarians working in equine or farm animal first-opinion practice. Data underwent thematic analysis using a grounded theory approach. The five themes identified were relevant to both equine and farm animal veterinarians and represented the breadth and complexity of anatomy, its importance for professional and practical competence, as well as the requirement for continuous learning. The centrality, and broad and multifaceted nature of anatomy was found to challenge equine and farm animal veterinarians highlighting that essential anatomy knowledge and related skills are vital for their professional and practical competence. This aligns with the experiences of companion animal clinicians which have been described previously. In equine practice, the complexity of anatomical knowledge required was particularly high, especially in relation to diagnostic imaging and assessing normal variation. This resulted in greater importance being placed on formal and informal professional development opportunities. For farm animal clinicians, anatomy application in the context of necropsy and euthanasia was particularly noted. Our findings allow anatomy educators to design appropriate and effective learning opportunities to ensure that veterinary graduates are equipped with the skills, knowledge and resources required to succeed in first opinion veterinary practice.


Homfray, B., Attwood, A., & Channon, S. B. (2022). Anatomy in practice: how do equine and production animal veterinarians apply anatomy in primary care settings?. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 3, 2022
Publication Date Oct 5, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 9, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 24, 2022
Print ISSN 0748-321X
Publisher University of Toronto Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed


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