Improving the client-vet relationship


client-vet relationship

Vet Record (formerly Veterinary Record) has launched a new feature ‘What Is Your Client Thinking?’ where owners set the learning agenda for vets—part of the journal’s strategy to encourage vets and owners to work together as partners to improve care.

Each month, clients, and occasionally veterinary surgeons, will explore different experiences of animal ownership, giving an insight into what clients are thinking, often at times when it is too difficult for them to explicitly air their feelings.

“We hope to stimulate discussion and learning around what matters to clients,” Vet Record’s managing editor Suzanne Jarvis said.

“Sometimes clients don’t behave in the way we might expect and that can lead to frustrations for vets. Even though a client may have a strong attachment to their pet dog, for example, they may not administer medication as directed.”

Jarvis added that client-vet communication can sometimes break down due to, for example, time pressures or misunderstandings.

“When things go wrong in the client-vet relationship, ineffective communication is often the cause. Through building some analysis of the client-vet consultation, we hope to encourage vets to reflect on how they interact with clients and what partnership means in practice.”

It was vet Zoe Belshaw who suggested the new addition to the journal after discovering for herself how tough it can be to look after a sick animal. The experience of looking after her ill, elderly dog led her to a PhD looking at how vets and owners make decisions about dogs with osteoarthritis.

“I found that usually vets and owners wanted the same thing—a happy dog that lived a comfortable life for as long as possible,” she wrote. “However, both vets and owners expressed a great deal of frustration with what happened during some consultations involving osteoarthritic dogs.

“As a result, working together on the best possible outcome for the dog sometimes stopped being the focus, and there appeared to be negative emotional impacts for both vet and owner. I thought shining a light on the human aspects of veterinary medicine could be valuable.”


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