The key to marketing ourselves lies not in who we are, but what we do to show it. Earning a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and passing the NAVLE demonstrate an individual to be intelligent and dedicated, possessing superior work-ethic and discipline, and capable of great resilience and resourcefulness. As new veterinarians, these accomplishments and character traits can distinguish us from much of the population, but not from each other. In order to market ourselves to stand out in a crowd of stand outs, we must do more than merely what we are taught in veterinary school. As veterinary students, we are lectured in medicine and practiced in surgery. We are drilled in laboratory procedures and educated in the art of the physical exam. We are taught, trained and tested in every significant aspect of veterinary medicine to ensure that our technical skills and medical competencies meet the highest of standards. All that is taught in veterinary school is not all that we need to know to be a successful veterinarian. Our schooling is inadequate; fortunately, it is only one part of our education. Our responsibility as veterinarians is not simply to identify, prescribe and perform the appropriate diagnostic tests and treatment plans for a particular case; but rather, we must be able to recommend the diagnostics and treatments in such a fashion so as to ensure approval by the owner and receipt by the patient. The righteousness and certainty that too often accompanies professional medical opinion can be a great hindrance to achieving this goal. To give anything less than our utmost in the practice of client communication and education is to commit more than just malpractice, it is to commit an egregious offense against our ethical responsibility. I have great conviction in the belief that client communication is of paramount importance and is largely overlooked by the veterinary curriculum. To address this we must make a concerted effort to improve our own communication skills. We must be acutely conscious of written and verbal interactions and always be working to better ourselves. Practice these skills daily – every conversation and email is an opportunity to practice and improve – so we can become more adept at employing techniques to facilitate interactions with the world around us. Perhaps the use of “to sell” is too churlish a verb to choose when discussing the practice of our ancient and noble profession. To better connote the importance of tact and humility, perhaps we ought to refer to the subtle interplay of communication, education and reasoning as the art of persuasion. To communicate and to persuade, one must be knowledgeable, caring, and humble. Skilled communication and persuasion will improve our practice of medicine as well as distinguish ourselves from our colleagues. Our marketability and value lies not in professional pride or academic accomplishment, but in the practice of veterinary medicine with compassion and humility.
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