No matter if you are a third or fourth-year vet student or a new veterinarian, you probably have experienced some time with demanding clients or pet owners. Many of us have seen the scene with pet owners arguing and yelling at veterinary staff and vice versa.
Sometimes, it isn’t difficult clients but difficult situations instead. These difficult situations often occur because of miscommunication and many emotions happening simultaneously, and not just because someone is difficult.
As veterinary professionals, we should try to be aware of the degree of stress and anxiety that each individual might be feeling at the current moment. For example, the pet owner is distressed because his or her pet is sick. He or she is anxious since he or she doesn’t know what’s wrong, and is waiting for the veterinarian to get answers. All that anxiety builds up with the waiting time, and when finally he or she gets to hear from the staff, they say they aren’t sure what’s going on with the pet and they need to run more tests. Some people may get very frustrated with this situation.
On the other side, I know how fast-paced it is working in the veterinary world and how we spend most of our days running to and from the exam rooms, and getting diagnostic and treatment plans together. But the key is to think about the other person’s concerns and explain in the best way you can what you are doing to take care of their pet. We must be aware of any shifts in the tone of voice or person’s attitude in these times. It’s essential always to explain everything and clearly, use life real or personal experiences as examples and show them empathy. I have realized how difficult clients may be overwhelming initially, but putting in the extra effort for your pet owners would pay off. You will gain peace of mind to do your best and build up a clientele that would trust you.