Nurses, consults and communication

ONCORE’s Jill Macdonald has been leading an ongoing project over the past year and a half to devise a Veterinary Nurse-specific client communication ‘model’. Jill has been working with a group of over 30 expert panellists to devise and distribute surveys, collate results, share current research and host discussions.

The end product of the research project will be the first of its kind – a consultation framework specifically addressing the communication components and skills required by VNs in communicating with clients.

Workshop to add further input to the work

Jill, and colleague Carol Gray, recently held a workshop at the annual Vet Ed symposium, this year held at the University of Liverpool, to add further input to the work on the project.

Pin the tail on the donkey?

The 80 minute workshop offered delegates a chance to ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ by deciding where they would place all of the components and skills for consulting that have been agreed on by the panel, for different stages of a consultation. They then discussed ‘what key situations exist in VN communication’, and some really interesting scenarios were raised that VNs are commonly required to handle. The final model will include some examples of these key scenarios so that users of the framework are able to put specific components and skills of communication into context.

Live scenario provided by the workshop facilitators

To round up the workshop, Jill and Carol provided a ‘live’ scenario (discussion with an owner regarding an overweight Labrador) comparing the use of a ‘directive’ approach to a ‘shared decision-making’ (SDM) approach, and invited feedback from the delegates. The consensus was that the SDM approach provided the client with more opportunity to offer information, allowed them to consider and work with the nurse to devise a plan that would work for this dog and this owner, and was far more likely to achieve client compliance. SDM is one of the key areas of focus for the Nurse Consult model, so it was reassuring to see that in an ‘actual’ situation it could clearly be visualised that this approach to a client is extremely valuable.

Model aim is to be useful for practice and teaching

Jill refelcted on the workshop saying: ‘We had an amazing group of delegates, and they were all enthusiastic and engaged with veterinary nurse-client communication, the key skills nurses need; and how this may differ from what vets need; and how we can make the model as useful as possible both in practice and education. We received some excellent feedback on the workshop, and delegates felt that they had taken away a lot of new information. ‘

The project is now nearing the final furlong, so watch this space.

If you would like to be involved in any way, please email the project lead, Jill Macdonald, on
or call her on +44 (0) 121 663 1971