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Evaluating veterinary practitioner perceptions of communication skills and training
  1. M. P. McDermott, BSc, MSc1,
  2. M. A. Cobb, MA, VetMB DVC PhD MBA FHEA MRCVS2,
  3. V. A. Tischler, BSW, MSocSci, PhD, PGCHE, CPsychol, AFBPsS3,
  4. I. J. Robbé, BSc, MSc (PHM), MSc (MEd, distinction), MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, MFPHM4 and
  5. R. S. Dean, BVMS PhD MSc(EBHC) DSAM (fel) MRCVS1
  1. 1School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Room A11, Gateway Building, Sutton Bonington Campus, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK
  2. 2University of Nottingham Sutton Bonington Campus, Room B06a, Veterinary Academic Building, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK
  3. 3Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2TU, UK
  4. 4Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, The Health Sciences Centre, Room 2840, St John's, Newfoundland, Canada A1B 3V6
  5. 5M. A. Cobb is also at Comparative Veterinary Medicine – Deputy Head of School – Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK
  6. 6R. S. Dean is also at Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: michael.mcdermott{at}


A survey was conducted among veterinary practitioners in the UK and the USA in 2012/2013. Thematic analysis was used to identify underlying reasons behind answers to questions about the importance of communication skills and the desire to participate in postgraduate communication skills training. Lack of training among more experienced veterinary surgeons, incomplete preparation of younger practitioners and differences in ability to communicate all contribute to gaps in communication competency. Barriers to participating in further communication training include time, cost and doubts in the ability of training to provide value. To help enhance communication ability, communication skills should be assessed in veterinary school applicants, and communication skills training should be more thoroughly integrated into veterinary curricula. Continuing education/professional development in communication should be part of all postgraduate education and should be targeted to learning style preferences and communication needs and challenges through an entire career in practice.

  • Communication skills
  • Communication training
  • Continuing Professional Development
  • Undergraduate curriculum
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