Let's be frank: Poor communication between veterinarians and their clients can cause stress to pet owners, veterinarians and the pets. To address the issue, FRANK, a new communication training program for veterinarians, helps sharpen interpersonal skills, which ultimately improves animal health care and pet owner satisfaction.
The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is hosting four FRANK workshops this year, and Dr. Jane Shaw, director of the College's Argus Institute, will be teaching FRANK across the nation. The workshops at Colorado State are slated for May 7 and 8 and Oct. 1 and 2 at the Veterinary Medical Center.
Sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health, "FRANK: An Interactive Veterinarian-Client Communication Workshop" provides formal training in medical communication. FRANK helps veterinarians gather a more complete pet history, build collaboration with clients, encourage pet owners to be more involved in veterinary visits and clearly communicate with the pet owner about expectations, next steps and limitations in care.
FRANK sets the typical veterinary-client communication pattern on its ear. Traditionally, veterinarians talk 80 to 90 percent of the time during a patient visit. FRANK is based on a principle that the pet owner should share in the communication and decision-making process about their pet.
"When clients know they are heard during a veterinary visit, the outcome is optimal for the animal, veterinarian and client," said Dr. Shaw, a veterinary communication pioneer known internationally for her work in the field. "The veterinarian obtains a complete picture of the pet's clinical signs and health. The client provides input, increasing the likelihood that they will carry out the plan for care at home, benefiting the pet's health and ensuring that the client feels like his values, expectations and concerns were heard and considered. Finally, the veterinarian ultimately develops a strong partnership and mutual treatment plan with the client, enhancing the veterinarian's job satisfaction."
Taught in small groups, the 12-hour workshops feature one instructor per five veterinarians and simulated clients portrayed by real-world actors who act out scenarios based on real-life cases so veterinarians can practice communication skills with the instructor in the room.
Participants also work together and identify effective approaches to client communication. The group watches the interaction between a veterinarian who is participating in the workshop and actors through two-way windows into exam rooms. The group later provides suggestions about the veterinarian-client interaction. The sessions are videotaped for the participant's later review. Skills taught in the workshops are based on more than 40 years of medical communication research.
More information about FRANK workshops is available at the Department of Clinical Sciences website at http://www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/clinsci/ce/frank%20workshop.html