Help (Veterinary Research)

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Veterinary Office Management Research Project
Aimee Thornton
Student ID: 22910752
Exam #: 696238
[email protected]
July 25, 2021
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As a veterinary technician there are many responsibilities involving interpersonal
communications, including communications with colleagues and clients. Communications are some of
the most important tools that a technician can utilize within the veterinary practice. Without effective
communication, the ability to communicate information to clients and colleagues becomes difficult
which can further cause misunderstandings. These misunderstandings can lead to dire consequences to
patients if a technician cannot correctly interpret veterinarians written notes, or if a client is unable to
properly understand a technician’s directions for their pet.
There are four elements to effective communication; these are the message, the idea from one
person to another, the sender, a person where the message originates, the channel, which is the mode
of communication, including writing, speaking, and body language, and the receiver, the person for who
the message is meant for (Penn Foster, n.d.). These are the most basic elements of communication, but
they allow for more advanced communication to take place. To have a better understanding of how to
effectively communicate, veterinary technicians need to understand the six aspects of conversing with
co-workers or clients in a professional setting. These aspects are clarity, courtesy, positive non-verbal
communication, open-ended inquires, reflective listening, and empathy (Bassert et al., 2018, p. 5).
When conversing in a professional setting these aspects are important to keep in mind especially when
discussing clinical information to clients. Being clear in speech as a veterinary technician including proper
pronunciation, enunciation, and articulation will help to convey the message to the receiver. If the
message is muddled, a client may not understand the directions for medications or after surgery
instructions which can have consequences for the patient. Courtesy is an important aspect of
communication as it helps the sender of a message to have genuine concern for the receiver of a
message, especially one that may be difficult for the receiver to hear, such as the news that a patient
may need aggressive treatment for a medical issue or that a patient may need hospice care or
euthanasia as a primary treatment for an issue. Positive nonverbal communication helps to build trust
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and bonding between a client and a veterinary technician, such as nodding while clients are speaking,
petting their animal while obtaining vitals, or even simply maintaining eye contact while you or the client
speaks. Using open-ended inquires are important parts of communication to clients while taking
histories. These types of questions help funnel client information into an easy to interpret message to
clients using the phrases such as “how”, “why”, or “describe to me” type questions. Reflective listening
“represents half the communication process” (Bassert et al., 2018, p. 55), allowing a veterinary
technician to decipher specific information that is pertinent to the history of the patient. Being able to
listen to client’s descriptions of issues and then reflecting that information back to confirm that the
veterinary technician understands the patient information completely. The last important aspect of
communication is empathy, without empathy a veterinary technician does not have the skills needed to
discuss important information with a client, especially difficult topics such as euthanasia and end of life
Verbal and nonverbal communications are integral parts to communication within a veterinary
setting. Providing positive communication is important, especially being aware of what the body is
always doing, such as ensuring arms are not crossed while discussing information with clients. Verbal
cues including volume, pitch and tone help to ensure there is no miscommunications through support
staff and clients (Hare, 2003). Verbal communication is just as Important as nonverbal, as verbal
communication can convey information uniformly, whereas some nonverbal communication may not
mean the same thing across all cultures. In some cultures, nodding and head shaking can mean the
opposite to what it does in America. These differences in cultures, races, and those with some physical
limitations requires understanding and empathy as well. Communicating effectively in a veterinary
setting can be difficult but is necessary, as misunderstandings between veterinary staff members may
lead to treatment issues for patients. Discussing clarification for coworkers and clients helps to describes
how to ensure directions were completely understood.
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Being a good listener is fundamental part of interpersonal communications. The biggest part of
listening is utilizing ears and eyes while absorbing information. Expressions are a big part of the
comparison between verbal and nonverbal cues. Utilizing emotions and expressions while displaying
communication to clients can help to bond to techs and practices and allow them to feel that they are
understood. Allowing clients to speak completely without interruption can let them complete thought
processes but use cues to know when to break that silence such as sighs or hand wringing.
Utilization of paraphrasing is essential to veterinary technicians, as it is utilized across the field.
Veterinary technicians use paraphrasing to take client information and funneling it down to a small
history for a veterinarian to interpret and be able to ask more direct questions regarding their patient.
Paraphrasing is further used to convey veterinarian recommendations to clients after a treatment plan
has been created. Once a treatment plan has been completed, utilizing paraphrasing to effectively
explain client education for concerns or issues will be helpful as well. When addressing clients for
education, use eye contact will help to convey not only this information, but will increase the confidence
that clients have in their technician and the veterinary practice itself. Client education is not just limited
to speaking with clients, but also utilizing written communication such as handouts and brochures
regarding diagnoses, medications and other written recommendations (Penn Foster, n.d.).
There may be a multitude of scenarios where communications are essential to the everyday
workflow of a veterinary technician. Two useful examples of communicating would be discussing
medication directions to a non-native English speaker and the diffusing of a difficult client are common
scenes within a general practice technician’s work.
In the first scenario, a veterinary technician may be attempting to discuss take home medications
to a client with limited English skills. The technician must utilize the assets of being clear with their
verbal communication and utilize reflective listening to ensure the client has fully understood the
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directions for the safety of the pet. If the medications have a lowing dose schedule such as prednisone,
the directions may be confusing, especially to someone that has English as a second language. A
technician must be able to convey the importance of correct dosing of this medication to the client. The
technician can do this by ensuring they maintain eye contact while using clean enunciation for ease of
the client to understand. By also providing a written handout of this medication, the technician provides
a second communication device for the client to understand. As some non-English speakers are more
comfortable with their ability to read English rather than speak it.
The second scenario may show a client who is displeased with a service or feels that the practice
has fallen short of their expectations. A technician may be able to utilize conflict resolution
communication techniques such as remaining calm, asking the client to confirm exactly the issue, being
empathetic to a client’s situation and attempting to find points of agreement to help diffuse the client
(Bassert et al., 2018, p. 55). Although a management type employee may be the final one to speak with a
particularly difficult client, it is important that a technician is able to attempt to diffuse the situation
before it escalates further.
While interpersonal communication is an integral part of a veterinary technician’s role, it is a skill that
must be utilized by all in the veterinary setting to ensure that no communication errors occur either
between staff or to a client. Utilizing these skill and communication techniques can help a veterinary
technician hone and master their verbal and nonverbal skill set. Knowledge in the veterinary industry is
essential, but it will not advance a technician if they are unable to convey this knowledge to their target
audience. Such as teaching a new technician a skill or hospital procedure, discussing a patient treatment
plan with a veterinarian, or reviewing a patient’s medications with a client. The mystical factor in a good
technician is the ability to communicate effectively with everyone in their environment and utilizing
interpersonal communication skills that factor.
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Bassert, J. M., Samples, O., Beal, A., & McCurnin, D. M. (2018). McCurnin’s clinical textbook for veterinary technicians. Elsevier Saunders.
Hare, D. (2003, August). Good communication skills key to success. The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne.
Penn Foster. (n.d.). Veterinary Practice Management and Interpersonal Communication.
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