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Use of simulated clients in training veterinary undergraduates in communication skills
  1. A. D. Radford, BSc, BVSc, PhD1,
  2. P. Stockley, BSc, DPhil1,
  3. I. R. Taylor, BSc, MEd2,
  4. R. Turner, BA2,
  5. C. J. Gaskell, BVSc, PhD, DVR1,
  6. S. Kaney, BA, MClinPsychol, PhD3,
  7. G. Humphris, BSc, PhD4 and
  8. C. Magrath, BVMS5
  1. 1 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and Animal Husbandry, University of Liverpool Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Leahurst, Chester High Road, Neston, Wirral CH64 7TE
  2. 2 Liverpool Evaluation and Assessment Unit, Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Liverpool, 150 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L69 3GD
  3. 3 Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool, Whelan Building, Liverpool L69 3GB
  4. 4 MClinPsychol, CPsychol, Academic Division of Clinical Psychology, University of Manchester, Rawnsley Building, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester M13 9WL
  5. 5 Veterinary Defence Society, 4 Haig Court, Parkgate Estate, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 8XZ

Abstract

A course in communication skills has been developed specifically for veterinary students, based on those delivered at many medical schools, and making extensive use of professional actors as simulated clients. Its aim is to raise awareness of the importance of communication among veterinary undergraduates at all stages of the curriculum, and it allows them to role-play in acted-out scenarios. Facilitated small groups provide an environment in which students can receive feedback on their own performance and also give feedback to their colleagues. An independent evaluation suggests that the opportunity to role-play increased the students' confidence in communicating with others. They were able to identify their personal strengths as communicators and gain insights into the aspects of communication they could improve. Feedback and subsequent discussions were highly valued, with the actors playing a crucial role in providing feedback from the client's perspective. Students were able to use the knowledge they acquired when consulting with real clients. Most of the students suggested that the course should continue in its current format, but with more time provided for it in the curriculum.

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