As of late, I find myself approaching client education a bit differently than I once did. When I first started out as a veterinarian, I would spend a great deal of time in a room with a client, explaining diagnostics, treatment plans, and disease processes. I fancied myself quite the communicator. Lately, I've taken the "less is more approach" - much like human MDs. Whisk in, discuss physical exam findings, recommend some tests, and whisk out. Part of this is necessity - we've been very busy in the ER, and part of this is because of the following:
Over the last 2 years, it has become readily apparent that people just don't listen. Or even if they do listen, they only hear and process about 1% of what I say. This has become obvious recently because my technicians will often go into the room after me to discuss the medical plan with the owner. My tech will then come back out and say, "Ms Smith didn't realize that you were recommending Fluffy stay the night. Could you go back in there and explain everything again?" This happens so many times in a weekend now that I'm beginning to question whether it's me or them.
I cannot decide if it's my technique, the owners unfamiliarity with medical topics, the owner's disinterest in medical topics, or the emotional distress most people are under when they visit the ER with a pet. Perhaps it's a combination of all of these things.
So, pet owners out there - answer me this: how can your veterinarian better serve you in the communications department? Currently, I give everyone an informational hand-out regarding their pet's particular disease process (as long as I have a fairly firm diagnosis and a hand-out). I also try to answer questions and pause during my explanations to ask if there are any questions. Still, people don't always seem to "get it."
What could your vet do to better communicate with you?
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