A very important aspect of veterinary medicine is communicating with clients. People say they get into veterinary medicine because they like animals, not people. Well, what’s attached to that animal? An owner, best friend, breeder, rider, trainer, a family, maybe even all of the above. Yes, our main focus is going to be treating and taking care of the animal, but when we make an animal better, we’re hopefully making their human feel better, too!
We spent two and a half hours yesterday learning the basics of client communication, and how your ability to communicate can really have an impact on the outcome of the appointment. We watched a video of a girl who shot rapid-fire questions at an owner and barely got any information on the patient as a result, because she was rushing and not taking the time to make the owner feel comfortable. We then watched a video where the girl took the time to establish a relationship with the owner and let him tell his story rather than her trying to force it out of him. Granted, these were scenarios, but I could easily see how they could be true. I personally know that I would feel uncomfortable if somebody walked into the room, didn’t introduce themselves, and immediately started drilling me with questions. It’s small things like calling the client by name (both human and pet) that can really make a difference in how the appointment will progress.
After learning all of this, I’m going to try very hard to start to follow these communication techniques. I also want to pay more attention in my own office visits with doctors to see the difference in client communication methods. Did you know on average it takes 20 seconds for a doctor to interrupt you? If I get the chance to work with a veterinarian this summer, I also think it will be interesting to see how different vets approach clients and how their methods have an influence on the clients.
It really also makes me realize why veterinary schools have an interview process. We can be smart, well-rounded, and overall amazing on paper, but what good does that do if we can’t talk to people effectively? Communication is how we go through life. We would never be able to solve problems, work together, even do something as simple as order food. Communicating effectively is definitely a great skill to have, and I’m going to try my best to work on it.