Even the most clinically experienced veterinarian can occasionally use some help when it comes to polishing up his or her client-relations skills. And now, a special program at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital is helping veterinary students and veterans alike hone their bedside manner. At CSU’s Argus Institute, about 50 veterinarians from all over the United States were placed in different scenarios that tested and developed their communication skills during a two-day workshop.
The university hired actors with experience in theater and film to play clients facing tough financial or life-or-death situations with their pets. According to the Denver Post, the veterinarians worked in groups of four or five and met one-on-one with a “client.” Each client described a particular problem with a pet and asked for some kind of guidance. The veterinarians were told to emphasize open-ended questions, allow clients to complete their thoughts, express empathy, and come up with a mutually agreeable action plan.
This training helps veterinarians fill the gap between the clinical knowledge they gain in veterinary school and what they often come across in the real world. According to Jane Shaw, director of the Argus Institute, clients who feel they have been listened to and consulted are more likely to follow through on treatment plans for their animals.