Staying on schedule

ADVERTISEMENT

Staying on schedule

source-image
Dec 01, 2005

I often get caught in conversations with clients, and then I'm behind for the rest of the day. How can I stay on schedule without offending clients?

"Congratulations! It sounds like you've mastered the fine art of building rapport," says Dr. Lydia Gray, MA, executive director of the Hooved Animal Humane Society and a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member. "Some veterinarians never develop 'bedside manner.' But, as you've discovered, sometimes having a great doctor-client relationship leads to other difficulties. You're right to worry about how ending a conversation inappropriately might be perceived by your client."

Dr. Gray points to a veterinary communications expert, Dr. Jacob Antelyes, who was a former columnist for JAVMA, for help. "Our vehicle, the doctor/client conversation, is not an off-the-road machine; for maximal performance, it must stay on the highway," said Dr. Antelyes. He offered several strategies to get conversations back on track in his Jan. 15, 1989, article, "Listening: Heart and Soul of Doctor/Client Relationships."

According to Dr. Antelyes, one strategy is to interrupt. "He said productive interrupting stops the flow of talk in a friendly way and provides an opening so you can change the direction of the conversation," says Dr. Gray. "But don't just interrupt. Say 'excuse me' or 'pardon me for interrupting.'" Then, regain focus by paraphrasing something the client said earlier, asking a clarifying question, or structuring the patient's problem, Dr. Antelyes recommended.

Another strategy Dr. Antelyes recommended is to bring the client back to the central theme of the visit—the patient. "He suggested saying something like, 'This is very interesting, and I wish you'd tell me all about it another time; the most important job we have to do today is take care of your horse's leg.' Then use the strategies above to regain focus," says Dr. Gray.


Dr. Lydia F. Gray, MA
Another reason conversations stray is because the veterinarian isn't totally focused, she says. Dr. Antelyes recommended bringing an undistracted mind to the patient's problems. "You can't always expect clients to remain focused when they're worried about their animals," says Dr. Gray. "If, at least, you're focused, you can do a better job of corralling conversations."

Hot topics on dvm360

Follow dvm360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

For quick updates and to touch base with the editors of dvm360, Veterinary Economics, Veterinary Medicine, and Firstline, and check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Sell veterinary clients on your service

But you don't have to have butler-style service to win new clients and keep existing clients happy.

Why veterinarians should be more like a Louisiana shoeshiner

If my veterinary clients feel half as good as I did after visiting the 'Michael Jordan of shoeshines,' I'll be thrilled.

Texts from your veterinary clinic cat

If your clinic cat had a cell phone and opposable thumbs, what would he or she text you?

Learning goodbye: Veterinarians fill a void by focusing on end of life care

Veterinarians dedicating their careers to hospice and euthansia medicine may be pioneering the profession's next specialty—at clients' request.