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Tools and Resources - Professional Success

Appreciative Inquiry: One of the tools you can use to implement change is Appreciative Inquiry. This handout introduces the concept and gives a few examples. The worksheet at the end helps to apply the concept to the veterinary school environment. The concept is also a good one to use for team meetings in practices.

Call Backs: This handout describes the importance of performing client call backs and gives scripts and protocols for doing so.

Communicating Medical Information to Clients: Your communication skills will make or break you all during your professional career. These tips and techniques can make you shine in the exam room. For a condensed version to print out and carry in your lab coat pocket or on a clipboard, see the Wellness Wallet Card document.

Communication Gone Wrong: This handout is meant to be used as a group exercise for discussion. It introduces some common, real life situations that might occur in a veterinary hospital and provides questions about what went wrong and how the situation could have been prevented. What should you do to avoid miscommunication with a client, and what should you do if it’s already “Gone wrong”?

Communication in Conflict: This is another handout is meant to be used as a group exercise for discussion. It introduces some common, real life situations that might occur in a veterinary hospital and provides questions about what went wrong and how the situation could have been prevented. This time the focus is on conflict within the veterinary team. What should you do to avoid conflict with your coworkers?

Estimates: Putting estimates together and presenting them to clients is a basic skill you’ll need every day in practice, but it’s rarely taught in school. Here’s what you need to know.

Ethics in Veterinary Medicine: Ethical dilemmas occur all the time in veterinary medicine. The public has a very high regard for veterinarians and veterinary staff members. We consistently rank at the top for the most trusted professionals or professions. It is everyone’s job to uphold and maintain high ethical standards, to keep this high regard for both our profession at large and our hospital in particular. What constitutes unethical behavior and how can we avoid it?

Politics in the Practice: Good managers and leaders are able to understand and influence office politics. All organizations have politics – they have weak and strong members as far as power to make decisions or to influence the team. They also have people who have or don’t have influence over other people in the practice. Much of our success with other team members in private practice is based on our ability to understand and work within the power structure. Although most of us don’t think of ourselves as playing games or manipulating others, in fact we human beings do this naturally, and often unconsciously, all the time. This handout teaches you some basics on political structures in business and provides discussion questions to explore with others or on your own.

Statistics for Students (and new grads): Stories and statistics help with client education. About 50% of people prefer to learn via facts and figures, while the other 50% or so prefer to hear stories or anecdotes. To educate clients more effectively, one of the strategies I use is to combine a story and a statistic. Unfortunately, you learn a lot of statistics in veterinary school but few of them relate to wellness. These are some of the stats I use most frequently when discussing products and services with clients.

Wellness Wallet Cards: These handy cards can be laminated and carried in your pocket or on a clipboard. They will help to remind you of what to say or do for 10 different situations involving wellness and communications, including obtaining a history, communicating medical information or calling the client up after the pet goes home. Don’t go on clinics without them!

What About Wellness?: Because most veterinary teaching hospital patients are presented for serious problems or referrals, and also because the professors are boarded specialists, wellness and preventative care get short shrift in vet school. Unfortunately, this means students graduate unprepared for the world of general practice, where two thirds of the patient visits are for routine and wellness services. Annual examinations, vaccination visits, heartworm testing, puppies and kittens, dentistry and elective surgery make up most of our business. Here’s what you need to know about this critical area of practicing medicine.