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Communication in the consulting room.

The consulting room is where a large percentage of the practising vet’s time is spent, for small animal work typically being well in excess of 50% of working life.  It is also where many performance issues arise such as achievement or failure in client compliance, financial transactions, and numbers of complaints.  Nowadays, the professional practising vet cannot ignore the importance of the skills required for optimisation of the work in this area because it has such a high impact on clinical and financial outcomes, as well as client satisfaction and job satisfaction for the practitioner.

Exploring what is happening in the consulting room should include some gathering of feedback from client questionnaires, observations from clients and colleagues, and the use of video recording to name a few examples.  Discussion of these findings with colleagues and the management team in the practice can have a really big impact on the performance of the practice,.  (Ref: Manning.P.R. 2003, MSc thesis, Manning, 2006 DProf thesis).

In a series of articles in the Veterinary Times in 2011, (Manning) it was found from a survey of the readership that a top most important question the vets and nurses felt should be included in the discussions with clients was ‘sharing the procedures the practice had for infection control’.  This was considered as important as sharing the evidence for success and complication rates in cruciate surgery in the dog.

In reality, the above theory is not always applied, and the real consulting room experience for the client may appear to them that their concerns have been ignored and not heard or acknowledged by their vet.

In order to ensure that communication between the vet and the client is maintained at a high standard in sharing of information, using a selection of tools such as those mentioned above to deliver reflective practice helps to ensure that clients and our patients receive the best care we can offer.


Manning, P.R. (2003) Consultation skills in veterinary practice.  MSc thesis.  Middlesex University.

Manning, P.R. (2006) Consultation skills in veterinary practice.  Exploring links between consultation skills and key performance indicators.  DProf thesis.  Middlesex University.

Manning, P.R. (2011) Evaluation of cruciate surgery in the dog.  Series of articles in Veterinary Times.


Author : Dr Paul R. Manning, MA, VetMB, MSc(VetGP), DProf, MRCVS.

MRSA, MRSP and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria are posing an increasing risk to animals and humans. The Bella Moss Foundation is at the forefront of efforts to combat these organisms. The work of the Foundation to bring vets, scientists and the public is invaluable. Their work in collating and disseminating practice information and advice is unique, and of worldwide importance."

Dr Tim Nuttall, BSc BVSc PhD CertVD CBiol MIBiol MRCVS, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Dermatology. The University of Liverpool Faculty of Veterinary Science.

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