Some Serious Client Education

   You come out of an exam room after spending a little longer than you would have liked discussing food allergies and look up at the clock. The clock says six, but the file in your hand is a five o'clock appointment. You are now an hour behind schedule and realize you need to pick up the pace. This appointment is a three year old dog here for wellness and some vaccines, should be routine and you can breeze in and out. The physical exam goes without incident and you are about to wrap up the appointment by giving the vaccines when the owner says, "I don't know if I want my dog to get the distemper one, I here that vaccine causes cancer."

   That is quite the statement for which there are many different responses. You could just say fine and not give the vacccine. You could quickly assure the owner there is no proof and give the vaccine, or you may feel sorry for someone so misinformed that you feel compelled to take the time and become a teacher. Though if you happen to be behind an hour in appointments you may need to pick your battles or at times just give the cliff notes version.

   It can be easy to forget the assumptions we make with our clients. We have come a long way in client communication over the years, but sometimes forget that just because we said it, or it was stated in a handout or brochure that the clients are going to completely understand. A professor in veterinary school told me that at best we could retain 20% of the information they were packing into our brains, how can we expect anymore from our pet owners?

   So when I have an owner decline a wellness CBC and serum chemistry for her pet because when she provided that care to her last pet it failed to detect the cancer that was diagnosed 6 months later I feel compelled to take an extended amount of time to explain what we can actually measure in routine bloodwork and for what purpose. I feel that I am failing as an educator if the owner believes that routine bloodwork can predict every possible medical malady. The education that I am providing to that owner is not only of use towards her understanding of her pet's health care, but that information could come in handy for her understanding of her own or another human loved one someday.

   Even though most veterinarians are not instructors at universities, teaching is one of the most important aspects of our profession. It can be a difficult job to connect to 30 different people a day with different levels of understanding when you need to be in and out of an exam room in 15 minutes or less. Support staff is essential in helping convey very important information to owners to help leverage the doctor's time. One thing I personally need to work on is giving my highly educated staff the opportunity to answer more of the questions when I am running behind. But on an occaision when I am asked, "can my pet get herpes from a human?" I find that my pupils become fixed, my hand lets go of the door knob as I turn around and address the question head on, all the while putting myself another 10 minutes behind schedule. Time is relative when it is all in the name of some serious client education.

Comments




  • Well-written article & something we deal with daily as veterinarians.  I enjoy the education aspect (when I have the time), and many times have to remind our team that clients often need to hear the same message many different times before they have a level of understanding of the topic. The same goes for a veterinary team during training - it all goes back to that 20% retention rate you mentioned in the article,

    ISUShelO, 4 years ago | Flag
Uploaded By: warollo
4 years ago

Inappropriate Flag

Flagging notifies the Veterinary Community webmaster of inappropriate content. Please flag any messages that violate the Terms of Service or Rules of Engagement. Please include a short explanation why you're flagging this message. Thank you!

If you believe this content violates the Terms of Service or Rules of Engagement, please write a short description why. Thank you.

Inappropriate Comment Flag

Flagging notifies the Veterinary Community webmaster of inappropriate content. Please flag any messages that violate the Terms of Service or Rules of Engagement. Please include a short explanation why you're flagging this message. Thank you!

Email Friends

Your First Name (optional)

Email Addresses (comma separated)

Import friends

Message to Friends (optional)

Are you human?

Or, you can forward this blog with your own email application.

Terms of Service