Polish your communication skills and increase client compliance in the exam room.
Ask 10 veterinarians about their vaccination protocols and you'll probably get 10 different answers. Whether you're explaining a change of procedure in your own hospital or addressing a client's concern about why your technique differs from another clinic's, here are some tips to help clients see it your way.
Dr. McLain Madsen
1. Drop some big names. Both the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners recently published comprehensive vaccination guidelines addressing selection of antigens and frequency of administration. Let your clients know that you are following the recommendations of experts in the field.
2. Be the bearer of good news. Clients appreciate knowing you've got their best interests and those of their pets in mind. Be enthusiastic about presenting a new vaccination protocol to your clients by saying, "Good news! We don't need to booster Buffy's parvovirus shot this year. That will save you money and save her a needle poke." You'll gain their trust and they'll be more likely to heed your recommendations.
3. Don't play the blame game. Even if another veterinarian gives coronavirus vaccine to every animal he sees every year, don't badmouth him. Instead, say something like, "In our experience, that disease isn't a problem in this area. Here's what we recommend."
4. Be on the forefront of industry trends. Even though vaccine research has been around for decades, your clients don't need to know that. Whether you're switching to a recombinant vaccine or changing the frequency of boosters, tell them you're following what new research dictates. Clients will appreciate your commitment to practicing cutting-edge medicine.
5. Tailor the protocol to each pet. Although vaccination guidelines differentiate core from non-core vaccines, carefully assessing the pet's lifestyle can give clients ownership in the new protocol. Engage clients in a discussion of risk factors during the medical exam. Does Fifi go to doggy day care or travel with the family? Does Bruno go hunting and could he be exposed to ticks? When clients feel like they're a vital part of their pet's healthcare decisions, they're more likely to follow your professional recommendations.
Laura McLain Madsen, DVM, is an associate at Central Valley Veterinary Hospital in South Salt Lake, Utah.