Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses: K–12 Programming for Veterinary Workforce Development

Published:2013, Journal of Veterinary Medical Education
40(4) 419-425; doi: 10.3138/jvme.0313-053R
Authors:San Miguel S, Parker L, Adedokun O, Burgess Wilella, Davis K, Blossom T, Schneider J, Mennonno A, Ruhl J, Veatch J, Wackerly A, Shin S-Y, Ratliff T
PMID:24052417 , PMCID:PMC3837546 , NIHMSID:NIHMS528102

workforce development, K–12 education, veterinary medicine, curricula, traveling exhibit, children’s

View Publication https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3837546/


Workforce development strategies to educate, inform, and diversify the veterinary profession of the future must
begin with children in elementary school. This article provides a description of the Fat Dogs and Coughing
Horses program, which takes a multifaceted approach toward informing young students, beginning in first grade,
about the interesting work and career opportunities available in the field of veterinary medicine. The program, a
collaboration among Purdue University and Indiana public schools, is supported by a Science Education Partnership
Award from the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs, a component of the National Institutes of
Health. The overall goal of the program is to provide formal and informal educational opportunities for students,
parents, teachers, and the public about the science involved in keeping people and their animals healthy.

Examples of health concerns that impact both people and their pets are used to inform and excite children about careers in
the health sciences. The program resulted in (1) curricula for students in Grades 1–3, 6, and 9; (2) four children’s
books and a set of collectible cards which highlight veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and research scientists
who work with animals; and (3) four traveling museum-level quality exhibits. Preliminary assessment data has
shown that the implementation of the curricula enhanced student science learning and science attitudes and
interests. The program provides evidence that partnerships among professionals in veterinary medicine and
K–12 education can result in impactful workforce development programs.