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Influencing clients
  1. David Main
  1. BVA Animal Welfare Foundation Senior Lecturer in Animal Welfare, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU

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Changing client behaviour is an important part of practice and students should be equipped with the skills to do this, says David Main

IF you want a good discussion topic for the practice coffee room, ask whether a veterinary practice should have a mission statement focused on standards of husbandry provided by its clients in addition to standards of clinical care provided by the practice.

Similarly, a good question for kicking off a debate during a veterinary school admissions interview is: ‘Should we teach selling skills?’. Most prospective veterinary students seem to respond with a black or white answer – either ‘no’, because we should not be seen to be ‘selling’ stuff to our clients, or ‘yes’ because the client should be persuaded (or as one candidate suggested ‘cajoled’) into doing the right thing.

These questions go to the heart of what we are aiming to do as a profession. Are we service providers reacting to the clients' wants, or are we animal advocates proactively trying to improve the welfare of animals in our (or is it their?!) care? If we are justified in trying to influence the care provided by our clients then shouldn't we teach all new graduates selling skills in order to promote the uptake of our well-meaning advice?

Whether it is the 67 per cent of rabbit owners that keep rabbits in social isolation (PDSA 2011) or half the dairy industry that has a …

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