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Teachable moments

We wear many hats in veterinary medicine. As a veterinarian, I am much more than just a physician. We are listeners, perceptive examiners, empathetic caregivers, but most of all we are educators. I firmly believe that one of the most critical aspects of an appointment is teaching your clients. Not just showing them the value of a thorough examination or diagnostic test, but teaching them why we are recommending those specific tests and treatments. A pet parent who understands why a procedure is being done is not only much more likely to be compliant, but this means that our patients are much more likely to receive the treatments and follow up care that we recommend.

I have been told my entire life that I talk too much! I won’t argue that this is untrue, but it seems to serve me well in my exam room. I like to describe everything that I’m doing as I’m doing it. I want to explain the rationale behind recommending a test, then say to you what that test result shows us and how it affects the treatment plan going ahead. I like the client and myself to be a team.

You can be an excellent veterinarian and provide stellar medical care, but if you are unable to educate and share your knowledge with your clients in an efficient manner, I feel you are falling short. To me, there is nothing worse than hearing one of your customer service staff members at the front desk asking a client how the appointment went only to listen to your pet parent tell them they are not sure. If a client has only taken away from your time together that you did some test and now are sending them with some medication for “something,” you have not done your job.  Teaching is not only valuing your patients and doing everything you can to ensure they receive the best treatment possible, but it is also evaluating your clients. Your clients deserve for you to take that extra time to explain, teach and educate. Knowledge is power and sharing that knowledge with your clients and showing that you value the role that they play in a team approach to medical care is important.

I have recently been reluctantly brought into our Facebook world at the clinic. There is the running joke among staff that I am the “face of Harbour Cities.”  I can’t say I am entirely comfortable in front of the camera, but it has allowed me the opportunity to educate beyond the reach of my exam room. Hearing from clients that they found a video interesting, or even better than they learned something that they can put to use in their world is incredibly rewarding.  So I look forward to many more “conversations” both in the exam room and on camera, and I hope we can continue to learn from each other.

Written by Paige Marryatt, DVM

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