The importance of good communication skills for pre-vet students

William Woods Undergraduate

According to a survey by The Harris Poll, 62 percent of Americans have at least one pet in their household, and of those people, 95 percent would consider their pet to be a member of the family.

Therefore, much like in human medicine, when these pet owners have a loved one who is sick, they are placing him or her in their vet’s care and expecting to be properly informed about procedures and treatments and know that they are in good hands.

In a Veterinary Practice News article, Dr. Amanda Chin, Veterinary Director of Vetcheck said, “Appreciating that a visit to the vet is generally a stressful experience: pet owners have to restrain their pet, complete forms at check-in and comfort the pet during a procedure; communication should be empathetic and consistent at each touch point and tailored to the pet owner’s needs.”

Pre-vet majors will soon learn that communication skills are a critical part of working in animal medicine. “Empathy, concern and reassurance along with easy to understand instructions has shown to result in higher levels of client satisfaction and adherence,” notes Dr. Chin.

The article states that an estimated 80 percent or more of pet owners do not undergo treatments recommended by their veterinarians not because of cost, but because of confusion and miscommunication. So how do you keep this from happening in your future careers?

Dr. Chin gives a few tips for effective communication, including:

  • Listen carefully
  • Show empathy and concern
  • Offer clear answers and instructions
  • Seek assistance or referral when appropriate
  • Address customer concerns or complaints
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Inform all relevant family members, as primary caregivers are not always present
  • Use simple language when offering verbal and written digital communications
  • Document all communications

Students in the pre-vet concentration can also take advantage of William Woods Pre-Veterinary Club, where they can get to know others with similar passions. They can gain experience through volunteering and practice patient-provider relationship building and effective communication.

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