Play in professional education: vets who horse around.


Play in professional learning can be a disputed topic, with paradoxical frameworks such as ‘serious play’ being used to legitimise playful practice in these settings. Despite this, play be a valuable tool in learning, particularly in encouraging adults to deal with uncomfortable situations such as personal failures. In partnership with students, we developed a playful roleplay scenario for first year veterinary students in a UK veterinary school. 102 students engaged in the roleplay scenario and 82% (84) engaged with a student-led evaluation with a pre and post session survey. A focus group with staff was also run to explore the value of running a playful session in an accreditation driven curriculum such as the veterinary programme. 91.7% of participants rated the scenario as enjoyable and 84.5% felt it should be used within the veterinary curriculum, but reflections from staff revealed complex interactions between students’ individual differences and the value of the session. Ultimately, the playful session was considered valuable for these learners, however there is a range of considerations for adopting play in professional practices.


roleplay, playful learning, educational evaluation, professional practice, pedagogical design

How to Cite

MacKay, J. R., Paterson, J., Stein, K., Chinnery, S. & Smith, S., (2021) “Play in professional education: vets who horse around.”, The Journal of Play in Adulthood 2(1). doi:







Jill R D MacKay (University of Edinburgh)
Jessie Paterson (University of Edinburgh)
Katie Stein (University of Edinburgh)
Sarah Chinnery (PDSA)
Steph Smith (University of Edinburgh)





Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Competing Interests

No competing interests known


Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

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