You might find this hard to believe, but the most important time I spend in the exam room with clients isn’t with my stethoscope on your dog’s chest, or peering into a microscope, or reading an important lab report.
The most important time I spend is talking with you. It’s your communication with us that is the key to a quality visit to our office, and the best quality of life for your forever friends.
It is important, and we discuss this often as a staff, that good communication starts when you place a phone call to make an appointment. The more information we can have in advance of why you are stopping by makes it easier and more efficient for us to be ready for you. Once you are in the door, the communication continues, especially once you are in the exam room. One of our great techs will likely ask you a series of questions, information which is then relayed to me so, once again, I can be as ready as I can be for the visit.
Believe it or not, I’ve seen studies referencing just an extra 150 seconds – two and one half minutes – at the end of an examination can yield important information. It is vital for us, and certainly you, to make sure you don’t feel rushed when you come in.
That’s one of the primary reasons we have recently renovated our offices (pardon our dust as we are in the final stages of that!) to open a second exam room. This will allow for a much more efficient flow of clients and pets in and out of the clinic, and most importantly, allow for as much time as might be necessary for your appointment. No longer will you have to worry about the people behind you in the waiting room, know that they are waiting for you to finish up before their appointment can begin!’
One of the very best things you can do to help us is to write down, in advance, any questions or concerns you might have, and any symptoms or unusual behaviors you might see in your pets. This is especially true in older animals, where even slight changes in patterns or behaviors might suggest an underlying condition.
Human doctors often ask for patients to bring in a list of all the medications you are on. My doctor even suggests that you bring all your actual pill bottles with you! That’s because we all forget things, and even forgetting to remember one medicine that you might be taking, when you are listing them for the doctor, could lead to a major problem.
Of course, in the case of our furry friends, they have to rely on you to communicate their concerns! So by writing everything down, from the big to the seemingly trivial, we can get a much more complete health picture to give you the best assessment and treatment possible.
I try to end each visit with “Is there anything else?” I’m not trying to be nosy, just helpful, in making sure we know what you know.
Chicago newspaper columnist Sydney Harris once observed, “The two words information and communication, are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” So here’s the deal at FMAC: You give out information, and we’ll make sure you’re getting through!
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