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Page 1 Veterinary Office Management Research Project Aimee Thornton Student ID: 22910752 Exam #: 696238 [email protected] July 25, 2021 This

Page 1

Veterinary Office Management Research Project

Aimee Thornton

Student ID: 22910752

Exam #: 696238

[email protected]

July 25, 2021

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Page 2

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

services.

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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References

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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