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Communication: More Important than You'd Think

My least favorite part of the veterinary curriculum is our communication exercises. It's a little surprising, since one aspect of being an ambassador is giving tours and talking to people I've never met before, but every year the communication exercises make me incredibly nervous. I'm not quite sure what it is about them, but every year I get more butterflies in my stomach from this than from anything else we do.

What are these dreaded exercises, you ask? Well, during first and second year, we are videotaped having a client communication interaction. We are given a scenario and we must have a 7-10 minute interaction with a simulated client. The majority of the time, these clients are not your everyday, happy client. They are usually unhappy about something, and one of the goals of these exercises is conflict management. Then, in third year, we have five simulated interactions to assess our communication skills and how far we have come since first year.

Why is this important? Because communication is vital to the veterinary profession. Anyone who thinks that they are going into the profession because they prefer animals to people should probably think twice, because with every animal, there is at least one owner that tags along. If we can't effectively communicate with each and every owner, it makes it difficult to find out what's wrong with a sick animal and increases the chance that client will go somewhere else for service. Although every year these exercises make me very nervous, I know that I will be very thankful to have had this practice the first time I have to encounter an angry client on my own.