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Structure of small animal consultations

S. Everitt, A. Pilnick, J. Waring, M. Cobb

OVER recent years, increased emphasis has been placed on the teaching of communication skills to UK veterinary students. This study aimed to analyse the structure of small animal consultations in UK practices to assess how consultations are structured in practice.

Thirteen veterinary surgeons who had been practising for between six months and 30 years, and who had varying levels of experience and worked in a range of practices, were selected to take part in the study. A video recorder was set up in the participants’ consulting rooms and a total of 48 consultations were recorded. The footage was then analysed and activities, timings and keywords were recorded.

Analysis of the recordings revealed that the mean duration of consultations was longer than the standardly allotted 10 minutes. Appointments were likely to run over if the animal was presented with a new condition, but some routine consultations also ran over significantly, as the clients often had other concerns that they wished to discuss. The authors note that it might be beneficial for receptionists to be trained to ask clients about what they wish to discuss so that an appropriate time can be allotted for appointments.

It was found that the …

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