An animal hospital designed for end-of-life care, created in the video game The Sims by veterinary student Abigail Hooker in a course on euthanasia communication taught by Ariana Boltax, D.V.M. ’18. Credit: Provided

Veterinary euthanasia course wins international award

Ending the suffering of a beloved family pet can be a painful experience, but Ariana Boltax, D.V.M. ’18, an instructor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, is helping students develop crucial communication skills when it comes to euthanasia.

Boltax has now been recognized for her work: Her course, Small Animal Euthanasia: Clinical Communication and Practice, won the grand prize in the COVID Educational Creations Contest, an international competition run by VetMedAcademy, a nonprofit that creates and curates open-source educational resources.

“Winning is an honor – it was important to me to find a way of sharing this course with other veterinary educators,” said Boltax, who works in CVM’s Educational Support Services unit. “Our students have the science down when it comes to euthanasia. But one gap in their instruction overall is ensuring that they’re able to effectively communicate about it with clients.”

With the COVID-19 crisis preventing in-person scenarios, she combined virtual instruction methods – simulations were done via Zoom – and custom course design to shepherd her students through the skill. Student projects included an animal hospital designed for end-of-life care, created in the video game The Sims.

Boltax said she’s pleased that these materials, which were made available to veterinary professionals on July 17, will benefit other educators and students. “It helps the practitioners,” she said, “it helps the students who are learning and ultimately it helps pet owners in the real world.”

She and her students are also working on implementing some of their final projects at Cornell’s animal hospital.

A version of this story appears on the College of Veterinary Medicine website.

– Melanie Greaver Cordova

Media Contact

Gillian Smith