This interesting webinar explores the importance of client communication for veterinary nurses and is an extremely useful review of just how different communication methods can change the perception of the information received. Lisa goes into a very useful analysis of communication methods used and provides helpful tips on how to review your practice’s methods as well as providing ideas on improvement and continuity. By being aware of how we communicate to others and how we can portray this in the best way, allows us to be one step ahead and minimise any confusion or upset caused previously in similar situations when something was misunderstood.

The purpose of communication

This webinar starts by providing a clear definition of communication. Lisa explains how communication defines relationships and shows how something said can easily be taken the wrong way and actions such as facial expressions change how something is communicated and received. If we are not familiar with a person and are unsure exactly how they communicate, it can be difficult to know how to perceive the information they are providing.

Communication is bidirectional and requires both a sender and receiver for the chain to work. Depictions of an image being redrawn by different people proves just how easy it is for the original meaning of something to be misconstrued. Chinese whispers causes information to be changed rapidly and draws attention to the fact that detail within a communication needs to be clear to be received correctly.

Barriers to communication

During the webinar, Lisa discusses the various types of barriers to communication and explains that the longer the chain of communication the greater the distortion could be because people can leave out details which they feel are unimportant. A chain of communication is only as strong as the weakest link and therefore it is vitally important to provide feedback, as feedback prevents distortion by clarifying that the message heard was the message sent.

To understand and prevent barriers to communication, training is important. It is vital to record all of the information discussed with clients in a consultation and on the phone by all members of staff. Written records of communication provide support and can be used to refer back to in terms of what was discussed with the owner to help minimise confusion.

How do we communicate?

The next area of discussion was the evaluation of how we communicate and what works best. To communicate we speak, hear, see, listen, feel and use our body language, we are multisensory. Lisa demonstrates how our message is heard and explains how this message is then interpreted in words and body language etc. Useful information as to how a client experiences their practice journey is also described which is a real eye opener. Statistics such as the fact that we lose 93% of communication methods by using social media, texting or email are also given – opening up a whole new area to assess and review. Good comparisons and examples of communication issues are provided along with back up advice of when it goes wrong. Data from the Veterinary Defence Society (VDS) was provided to help summarise common issues dealt with.

What would clients like?

Towards the end of the webinar, Lisa discusses what owners want and how much they value their opinion being considered. When clients are happy and communication with team members is successful, the veterinary team are happier which is likely to further improve job satisfaction when they are develop a rapport with clients.

An important area I had not considered in much depth previously is explored during the webinar, the client’s experience versus their state of mind. In veterinary practice we see a wide range of emotions within our clients, we see them panicked when their pet has been in an accident, we see them upset and hurting when their pet has reached the end of its life and we see them happy when taking their pets home from a stay in the practice. All of these emotions

affect their experience and also inform their decision to return to use our services again. It is important to consider and review promotional leaflets, posters, social media etc should be checked and monitored to make sure it is suitable and in the correct communication format.

Take home messages

1.   Communication within practice is key to success

2.   Consideration of all personality types and preferences when communicating

3.   Be open and polite at all times – manners cost nothing

4.   Even a simple smile can start you on the right communication path

5.   Record and evidence communication

6.   Understand the impact of negative communication and the risk to our practices


As a result of this webinar, I will be advising all who work in practice to re-evaluate their communication methods. I am interested to find out more from clients as to how they feel their experience can be improved as well as researching the effects of different areas of practice such as end of life care communication. I would like to discuss these findings with teams and see how change could be implemented for the better.


Gemma Reeve RVN ISFM certFN

I have been working within the veterinary profession for 13 years, having gained vast experience within small animal, mixed practice and referral field. Over the years I have treated anything from a Guinea Pig to an Alpaca and I have enjoyed the variety of work I have undertaken. I am a BVNA Council Member and a Regional Representative.

I have a keen interest in orthopaedics and in June 2018 I became the South East Territory Manager for Veterinary Instrumentation. I have also recently achieved my ISFM Certificate in Feline Nursing.

In my spare time I enjoy writing articles for veterinary publications, photography socialising with friends and spending time with my 13-year-old Lhasa Apso.

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 34 • February 2019