DVMs prefer the phone


National Report - While the telephone may be the most preferred method of communicating with clients, veterinarians recognize the benefits of e-mail and social networking.

NATIONAL REPORT — While the telephone may be the most preferred method of communicating with clients and colleagues, veterinarians recognize the benefits of e-mail and social-networking sites.

Vet Community using these sites

An exclusive DVM Newsmagazine survey showed that 64 percent of veterinarians prefer using the telephone for client follow-up, while only 5 percent prefer e-mail.

When communicating with colleagues, 61 percent of DVMs reported using the telephone, while 27 percent said they use e-mail. Fewer than 1 percent reported using social-networking Web sites, such as MySpace or Facebook.

However, the veterinary community is tapping into those online resources.

A search through MySpace turns up not only a multitude of practices with Web pages, but also a seemingly limitless list of job opportunities.

Facebook is the place to go if you want to find like-minded colleagues, become socially conscious or just ask a question or leave a comment.

The site boasts such alumni as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Group Health Life Insurance Trust (GHLIT), the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and the AVMA-Congressional Advocacy Network (CAN), which has nearly 1,000 members.

A Facebook page welcoming the "Canine in Chief" to the White House was put up by the AVMA on a Monday and had 108 fans by Wednesday.

In today's environment professionals must reach out to their audience in every way possible, says J.B. Hancock, AVMA director of communications.

"People are getting information from a variety of sources," she says. "You can't be sure they're reading one as opposed to the other."

AVMA has discovered its members Twitter, use Facebook and are Linked In. And age isn't necessarily the only determining factor in what they do.

"Obviously, we have student members who Twitter, use Facebook and use Linked In," Hancock says. "But we have some older members who like Linked In and other older members who prefer more traditional resources like DVM Newsmagazine."

Stahl Exotic Animal Veterinary Services in Vienna, Va., is one practice that is hooked on the Internet. The practice has both a MySpace and a Facebook page.

But the veterinarians who run the clinic have nothing to do with either.

Instead, the office manager and receptionist suggested posting and maintaining the pages, which they do.

"It's a good way to get yourself out there," says receptionist Camille Richardson. "We put them up a year ago and we've had so many people using it, from clients to breeder groups. It's just another way for people to get in touch with us."

While the telephone isn't going away anytime soon, there is no denying the growing online community of veterinarians.

Aside from AVMA, other veterinary-related groups and businesses on Facebook include Veterinarians Without Borders; Banfield, The Pet Hospital; Public Health Vets and many more.

Twitter is a new and quickly growing mode of communication.

Looking for a job? Twitter.

Need info on the new "Red Flag Rules" that went into effect May 1? Twitter.

"Communications today is a two-way street," Hancock says.

"It's not just organizations putting information out there; people need to be able comment on that information."

The opportunities seemingly are as limitless as the Internet.

"I get Twitter alerts every day from veterinarians who are out there Twittering," Hancock notes. "I don't know what their individual motives are, but they are using the channel."

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