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‘Care about my animal, know your stuff and take me seriously’: United Kingdom and Australian clients’ views on the capabilities most important in their veterinarians
  1. Kirsty Hughes1,
  2. Susan M Rhind1,
  3. Liz Mossop2,
  4. Kate Cobb2,
  5. Emma Morley3,
  6. Máire Kerrin3,4,
  7. Carolyn Morton1 and
  8. Martin Cake5
  1. 1The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  3. 3Work Psychology Group, London, UK
  4. 4Cass Business School, London, UK
  5. 5School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. E-mail for correspondence;{at}


Success in veterinary practice requires careful balancing of stakeholder needs. The aim of this study was to investigate the current expectations and needs of veterinary clients across a range of practice types. Interviews and focus groups were undertaken with veterinary clients to identify the capabilities of veterinarians that result in the best client experience, generating a ‘Veterinary Capability Framework’. This comprised six main capabilities each containing 4–10 behavioural indicators: client relationships; professionalism; communication skills; decision-making and problem solving; commitment to animal welfare; and commitment to quality and the profession. An online survey was then conducted to validate the importance of these capabilities, which was completed by 1446 mostly UK and Australian clients. The data have allowed us to develop a ‘Client Hierarchy of Needs’ which emphasises the fundamental importance of commitment to animal welfare and veterinary capabilities to the client experience. This study is part of the VetSet2Go project, a collaborative international project to define the capabilities most important for employability and success in the veterinary profession today.

  • client expectations
  • employability
  • veterinary profession
  • veterinary education
  • client satisfaction
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  • Contributors The project funding application andinitial project design were conducted by Martin Cake, Susan Rhind and LizMossop along with other VetSet2Go team members. Research interviewees were recruited and interviews conducted by Kirsty Hughes, Carolyn Morton and Katy Cobb. Template analysis and development of the capability framework, survey administration and analysis were conducted by the Work Psychology Group (Emma Rowett, Máire Kerrin and colleagues). Piloting, final design and distributionof the survey was conducted by the whole team. The final manuscript wasprepared by Kirsty Hughes, with input from the other co-authers.

  • Funding This study was completed as part of the VetSet2Go project, supported by the Australian Government Department for Education and Training, grant number ID15–4930. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Department for Education and Training. The Funder was not involved in the project design or implementation.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Department for Education and Training. The authors acknowledge the formative contributions of other VetSet2Go project team members within the broader project as well as Rachel Driver and Vicki Ashworth from the Work Psychology Group.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study was reviewed and approved by the University of Edinburgh R(D)SVS Human Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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