Vet Techs and Effective Communication skills
The veterinary care sector in America is experiencing sustained and robust growth in every state. With the growing importance families place on the health of their beloved companion animals, as well as the rising emphasis on ensuring humane and healthy conditions for production animals and other livestock the number of veterinary clinics is likely to continue to increase. In addition, the research and wildlife management sectors are also seeing a rising demand for qualified veterinary professionals.
However, vet techs require a wide variety of skills in order to effectively assist their fellow professionals and the animals under their care. Among the most important of these skills is the ability to effectively communicate with veterinary personnel and the general public.
Without the ability to communicate in a timely manner, even the most skilled vet tech may find him or herself unable to provide effective veterinary care. This skill is important both during the vet tech’s training and his or her professional career.
Preparing for a Vet Tech Program
In order to ensure the best possible performance in a vet tech program, the candidate should focus on obtaining a strong language background in high school. Most vet tech programs require a large amount of writing and stress the importance of legible and accurate records.
By ensuring that his or her communication skills are acceptable before entering the vet tech program, the student can avoid being handicapped by the need to take remedial language courses.
Among the skills the student should focus on obtaining is the ability to write quickly and legibly. Vet techs often must quickly write down reports for later transcription to a permanent computer record and thus it is vital that their writing be legible to the clerical workers who will enter it into the animal’s case file. This is especially important for information that will be used by other individuals to change or modify the treatment of the animal, such as requests for prescriptions or notes to the veterinarian about changes in the animal’s symptoms.
Once admitted to the veterinary technician program, the student will be required to carry out the following language intensive duties:
- Participate in classes with a very high reading and research requirement.
- Write papers and case studies for their classes that effectively and concisely discuss the assignment.
- Participate in classroom discussions about various types of veterinary subjects.
- Evaluate a number of case histories and discuss the results with the faculty and other students.
- Understand and successfully complete written tests, including multiple choice, short answer, and essay formats.
Finally, after completing the program, most states will require the student to successfully complete the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). The VTNE requires a high level of reading comprehension in order to pass, making effective written communication skills even more important to the candidate.
Maintaining Accurate Communication Skills
Veterinary medicine is a field that has an exact vocabulary and it is important that the vet tech understand how to use that vocabulary when communicating with other professionals.
In many cases, using an incorrect word, even if the difference seems small to a layperson, could completely change the meaning of a report or other communication. For this reason, the vet tech must always be certain to use the correct terminology in any reports or communications.
Communication Skills in the Veterinary Field
Once employed, the vet tech will find effective communication skills even more important. Not only will he or she have to interact with fellow veterinary personnel, but the general public as well.
Professional Communication Skills
When working in a clinic, lab or other facility, veterinary technicians will find that both verbal and written communications will be very important. They must be able to follow instructions without delay, and concisely relate information to the rest of the veterinary staff. Some examples of duties where effective communication would be vital include the following:
- During surgical procedures, the vet tech must be able to understand and immediately react to the surgeon’s requests. In addition, the vet tech must quickly and concisely inform the surgeon of any changes in the animal’s condition.
- When recording information, the vet tech must be able to use the correct terminology while ensuring that his or her writing will accurately describe the current condition of the animal. An important component of this is the ability to write a report in a way that emphasizes the most important events to the vet.
- The vet tech must be able to produce legible handwritten notes that can be used to inform the rest of the staff of important events or changes in the treatment of various animals.
Communicating with the Public
When communicating with the public, the vet tech must be certain to be accurate, but he or she must also understand that most clients are not veterinary professionals. Because of this, the vet tech must be able to accurately describe the situation to the client, without becoming bogged down in technical terms that may mislead or confuse the client. However, the vet tech must also avoid the appearance of talking down to the layperson.
Finally, in many cases the owners of a pet may be distraught due to their companion animal’s condition. The vet tech must be prepared to carefully inform them of the situation while reassuring them that everything possible is being done for their pet.
In cases where the pet has been brought in after being injured, the vet tech will conduct the initial interview. In many cases, the vet tech will have to obtain vital information from distraught and possibly incoherent owners, which will require a calm and reassuring demeanor.
Bilingual Communication Skills
Finally, in many areas knowing one or more languages other than English can be very beneficial for the vet tech. Due to the increasingly multicultural nature of America, many veterinarians currently serve clients who either speak English as a second language or do not speak it at all. A vet tech who is bilingual can not only communicate with these individuals, but also serve as a translator between the clients and other office staff.
The ability to effectively communicate with others is a vital skill that all vet techs must master. By doing so, they can ensure that the animals under their care will receive the best possible treatment, even as their owners are kept fully appraised of the situation. Finally, vet techs with superior communication skills will likely have improved professional and salary options.