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Veterinary team interactions, part one: the practice effect

Abstract

Veterinary practices have evolved since the era of solo practitioners working on one site. Today veterinary practices tend to include veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, receptionists and business managers, leading to the notion of the veterinary team and the rise of interprofessional working. In addition, practices have grown in size and frequently include several branches, creating a distributed team. Research regarding veterinary teamwork is lacking. This paper uses Social Network Analysis (SNA) to address this issue. SNA measures interactions between members of a network. The types of interactions in practice and the effects of practice size and location (branches) are considered. Information sharing and asking for advice are straightforward, lower order interactions. Problem solving and being influenced by another are complex, higher order interactions. Smaller practices have higher densities of interactions, implying a more cohesive team. However, individuals in smaller practices still do not interact with everyone and therefore actively choose with whom to interact. Practices with little staff rotation across branches experience limited interactions across locations. The results of this study have implications for practices aiming to expand their team, either in a single site or by acquiring more branches. Suggestions for ways to maintain and improve interactions are made.

  • Practice management
  • Clinical practice
  • Companion animals
  • Farm animals
  • Accepted September 16, 2015.

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