The ability to communicate competently is paramount in veterinary medicine. Although much client communication occurs face-to-face, telephone communication is utilized for providing patient updates and instructions, relaying results of diagnostics tests, and checking in with clients regarding the status of discharged patients and follow-up care (Car & Sheikh, 2003). While many of the skills associated with face-to-face client communication also apply to telephone communication, lack of visual cues necessitates careful attention to paralanguage and checking in with the client, as well as the importance of client paraphrasing. Yet, previous research suggests that while students are taught the basics of client communication, these skills do not necessarily transfer to telephone communication (Henn et al., 2012; Cary et al., 2012).
The purpose of this study is to explore 4th year veterinary medical students' communication skills during telephone conversations with authentic hospital clients.
We will conduct a quantitative content analysis of 25 recorded calls between students and hospital clients and code specific structural and communication strategies including identification (of themselves, their role, the client and patient, and the purpose of the call), preview, review, clear explanations, professional language, paralanguage (tone of voice, rate of speech, vocal segregates), listening, open-ended questions, and empathy.
While analysis of this data is in progress, preliminary review suggests that although students participate in experiential, face-to-face communication training prior to their clinical year, development opportunities exist for transfer and refinement of these skills to authentic telephone communication.
*Kedrowicz, April A., *Sheats, Katie
Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Raleigh, NC, USA