Client communication is a core clinical skill that is taught as part of the required curriculum at many veterinary colleges. Although much client communication occurs face-to-face, telephone communication is used to provide patient updates, relay results of diagnostic tests, and check on discharged patients. This research explored fourth year veterinary medical students’ telephone communication skills. We recorded and analyzed the transcripts of 25 calls students made to clients of three different services in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Additionally, we explored the perspectives of veterinary educators by distributing a survey to university faculty and house officers (n
= 57). Results indicate that students excelled at identifying the patient and purpose of the call and incorporating professional language and clear explanations. They require development in providing structure and incorporating core communication skills. Compared with our survey results, the student findings are at odds with clinicians’ expectations of students’ communication abilities. We conclude that additional training is required to familiarize students with expectations regarding telephone communication, including reviewing the case thoroughly, preparing to answer questions and provide explanations, following organizational protocol, and incorporating open ended questions, reflective listening, and empathy. This data will inform design, and help to measure the impact, of telephone communication education and training that will be incorporated into the existing veterinary communication curriculum.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited