Just as teachers have their “pet students,” so too do veterinarians have their “pet clients” (no pun intended). These are the clients who generate a buzz of excitement amongst the veterinary staff whenever their names appear on the appointment schedule. They have a knack for creating positive energy and seem to always make the job of caring for their pets such a pleasure.
So, what exactly is it about these “red carpet clients” that elicits such an enthusiastic response? Here are some of their endearing characteristics:
These clients come to an office visit prepared with lots of information. They can readily provide the exact brand and name of their pet’s diet as well as all of the medications and supplements (including dosages and frequency) their pets are receiving. There’s no claiming, “It’s that food in the bag with the bold red print,” or, “I’m giving those small, blue, oval pills.”
When visiting a veterinary clinic for the very first time, they come with prior medical records in hand including vaccination history, written medical records, laboratory test results, and X-rays.
These well informed folks are responsible Internet surfers. They glean information from reputable sites and avoid on line “junk food”. They prepare questions in advance of their office visits, but hold off asking them until their veterinarian has had the chance to gather history, perform the physical examination, and initiate discussion.
Willing to follow the game plan
These are the clients who arrive on time for an appointment out of respect for the veterinary staff as well as those people with appointments following theirs. They do their absolute best to follow doc’s orders for things such as administering medications, restricting calories and calling in with progress reports. If a question or concern arises about the agreed upon “game plan” they initiate discussion with the vet rather than revising the plan on their own. They bring their pets in for an annual physical examination, even when there are no vaccinations due.
Respectful and appreciative
The entire veterinary staff receives sincere respect and appreciation from these clients. Such sentiments are not reserved solely for the veterinarian because it is recognized that each and every staff member plays a significant role in the health and well being of their patients. The receptionist makes the call about whether or not to squeeze in an urgent request at 5:00 on a Friday afternoon. The technician cares for hospitalized patients, sterilizes surgical equipment and monitors anesthesia. It is the kennel assistant who disinfects surfaces that could be breeding grounds for contagious diseases.
Along with expressing their gratitude verbally during an office visit, these clients tend to send thank you notes and holiday greetings. From time to time they may even deliver some yummy goodies for the staff to enjoy.
Willingness to express their concerns
These clients talk to the veterinary staff about their genuine concerns and worries. Without doubt, this is difficult for some people. Discussing financial worries or crying publicly can be embarrassing. Expressing concern about a recommended test or medication may feel intimidating. Keep in mind that veterinarians who care deeply about the emotional well being of their clients (and I encourage everyone to find such a care provider) want to hear their clients’ concerns. Who better to provide genuine understanding and support?
All of these qualities help make a client one that I would love to clone, and I suspect that my colleagues would say the same.
Do any of these traits apply to you as a veterinary client?
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.