Update on the Veterinary Nurse-Client Communication Matrix

The Veterinary Nurse-Client Communication Matrix (VNCCM) will be a consultation communication guidance tool developed specifically for the needs of veterinary nurses. The project, led by Jill Macdonald, has been running over the past two years, and is nearing the completion stages.

Delphi method

The project has been carried out using the ‘Delphi method’ which involves the use of anonymous surveys sent out to project panellists, to achieve consensus on what should be included in the consultation communication matrix. Panellists include nurses (and vets and medics) in general practice, referral, education and industry; resulting in work that has input from many differing perspectives of the profession.

Jill expressed her gratitude to the panellists, and said:

‘we couldn’t have completed this work without the enthusiasm, input and expertise of our panellists, and I cannot thank them enough. The work that has clearly gone into completing some of the surveys has literally been ground-breaking. People have taken the time to really think about what nurses need in order to achieve effective, flexible communication that makes a difference to nurses professionally and to patient outcomes and animal welfare.’

From preparation to closure 

The matrix will utilise an outline ‘graphic’ that provides a ‘quick view’ guide to the nurse consultation, and then more in-depth information and guidance on effective communication in the consultation setting. The guide will follow the consultation from ‘preparation’ to ‘closure’, and include the components at each stage, and then the skills that may be used.

The ‘Matrix’? 

Why is it called a ‘matrix’? As Jill says, the name was a topic of some debate, and

‘The matrix is just that – it is intended to be a foundation for nurses to build their skills upon, to learn and grow from professionally – rather than a prescriptive and restrictive set of ‘instructions’. Communication is always flexible, is geared to the client, the situation, and the vet professional, and the matrix will allow nurses to see what may work for them, the client and the consult at hand’.

The matrix will also include specific elements that cover:

  • Shared decision-making
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Informed consent
  • Reflective practice

Nurses need consultation communication skills

 As project leader Jill says,

‘there is currently no guidance on communication that is specifically geared to veterinary nurses, and yet nurses are performing more and more consultations as the profession moves forward. We are really excited that we are going to be able to meet the needs of VNs in practice, who require these skills on a day-to-day basis, and also that our matrix will provide a framework for the practical teaching of veterinary nurse clinical communication.’

The intention is that the work will be available in an online format, and that ONCORE, who have supported the work throughout, will provide the facilities to enable this. It is aimed to also publish a paper on the work.

Presentation at BSAVA

Jill will also be presenting a basic outline of the matrix at the upcoming BSAVA Congress in Birmingham in April. Her talk is entitled ‘The Consultation Process and Models’, and is part of the nursing stream on Sunday 8th. Jill aims to utilise her presentation to offer an outline of two useful communication ‘models’ (the Calgary Cambridge guide and the VNCCM), and also to offer an overview of the processes for setting up, implementing and managing nurse clinics in practice.

‘Through my work with ONCORE I have seen the challenges that nurses in practice face in getting clinics off the ground, and much of this is simply due to not having the tools to manage the process effectively. I hope to offer some basic but useful guidance on implementing those all-important steps that will make clinics far more likely to succeed.’

Conference presentation


Jill will also be presenting work for the project to date at the upcoming ICCVM (International Conference on Communication in Veterinary Medicine) in Toronto, Canada (Mar 23rd-25th); during a podium presentation, and will be attending alongside worldwide leaders in veterinary communication.

You can find out more about the conference here: https://www.eiseverywhere.com//ehome/215811


Jill expressed her ‘pride’ at what has been achieved so far, and says she is sure that [the panellists] ‘will also feel a real sense of pride and achievement when we finally see the results of our work, and know that nurses are using it as a tool to guide them.’

Want to be kept updated?

If you’d like to be kept updated on the VNCCM, then you can sign up via the ONCORE updates service, and select the VNCCM option.

Please just follow this link.

Related article: Nurses, Consults and Communication. Available at: