At its core, the veterinary industry is a “people profession”. Although many veterinarians enter into this field to improve the health of animal patients, veterinarians must build professional relationships with their human clients in order to effectively and efficiently practice medicine. Veterinarians may have all the knowledge in the world; however, if they cannot articulate this knowledge in a way that clients can understand, then all is lost. Patient care will be compromised. Communication is thus the thread that links patient treatment to patient outcomes.
Communication is the building block that ultimately determines what the client agrees to, in terms of patient care, and whether or not client compliance will be a potential obstacle in those circumstances when outpatient care is a necessity.
Communication can build or break a practice; communication can make the difference between whether a client elects to return to a clinic or pursue care elsewhere.
Good bedside manner is not just nice-to-have. It is expected. In order for clients to trust you, the veterinarian, with their loved ones, you need to be able to communicate that you care.
There is no one “right” approach to clinical communication, just as there is no one “right” communication style.
However, having an understanding of basic communication skills and how to use them in clinical practice, in a way that feels genuine to the user, as opposed to forced, is key to a successful career in veterinary practice.
Just as suturing is an essential skill for the surgeon, communication is an essential skill for all veterinarians.
Communicating with clients in a clinic setting is often much more challenging than many new vets realise. Addressing clients and their pets correctly, teasing out information, asking the right questions, not causing offence and getting information across in the right way to ensure good compliance and repeat visits are all vital skills for the veterinarian to possess.
These short videos capture 19 communication skills that can be effectively interwoven throughout the consultation, and incorporate good and bad points of practice. (Videos will be added to the resource until all 19 are available). As such, they are ideal training materials for young vets and vets new to practising in the UK and US. They are also a great refresher for established vets who may want to brush up on skills that can round out their communication style.
The videos have been produced in partnership with the US-China Center for Animal Health at Kansas State University. Ryane Englar, DVM, DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice) presents each episode. Dr. Englar is the author of Writing Skills for Veterinarians published by 5m Publishing, as well as the forthcoming books: A Guide to Oral Communication in Veterinary Medicine and The Veterinary Workbook of Small Animal Clinical Cases.