Referring equine veterinarians' expectations of equine veterinary specialists and referral centers

Colleen Best Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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 DVM, PhD
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Jason B. Coe Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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Joanne Hewson Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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Michael Meehan Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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David Kelton Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

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Belinda Black Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital, 905 Goulburn Valley Hwy, Congupna, VIC, Australia, 3633.

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 BMVS, DVSc

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To explore referring equine veterinarians' expectations of equine veterinary referral centers and specialists.

DESIGN Qualitative, focus group interview–based study.

SAMPLE 6 focus groups comprised of equine practitioners with experience in referral of clients and patients to equine specialists or referral centers (48 referring veterinarians [rDVMs]).

PROCEDURES Focus group sessions were conducted independently and followed a standardized discussion guide consisting of open-ended questions and follow-up probes. Discussions were recorded, and thematic analysis was performed on the content.

RESULTS The overarching theme of participants' discussions was that specialists and referral centers are an extension of the care that rDVMs provide to their clients and patients. The 5 areas that participants described as important to this expectation were rDVM-client relationships, rDVM involvement during referral care, collegial rDVM-specialist relationships, communication between rDVMs and specialists, and the boundaries of referral care. Participating practitioners wanted to be involved during the referral process, which was seen as being facilitated by having a collegial relationship with the specialist and through effective communication during the course of referral care.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Relationships and communications between rDVMs and specialists are important aspects of equine veterinary medicine. Both rDVMs and specialists are likely to benefit from pursuing opportunities to further their relationship by using up-front communication to establish clear role expectations and clear processes for sharing information.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To explore referring equine veterinarians' expectations of equine veterinary referral centers and specialists.

DESIGN Qualitative, focus group interview–based study.

SAMPLE 6 focus groups comprised of equine practitioners with experience in referral of clients and patients to equine specialists or referral centers (48 referring veterinarians [rDVMs]).

PROCEDURES Focus group sessions were conducted independently and followed a standardized discussion guide consisting of open-ended questions and follow-up probes. Discussions were recorded, and thematic analysis was performed on the content.

RESULTS The overarching theme of participants' discussions was that specialists and referral centers are an extension of the care that rDVMs provide to their clients and patients. The 5 areas that participants described as important to this expectation were rDVM-client relationships, rDVM involvement during referral care, collegial rDVM-specialist relationships, communication between rDVMs and specialists, and the boundaries of referral care. Participating practitioners wanted to be involved during the referral process, which was seen as being facilitated by having a collegial relationship with the specialist and through effective communication during the course of referral care.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Relationships and communications between rDVMs and specialists are important aspects of equine veterinary medicine. Both rDVMs and specialists are likely to benefit from pursuing opportunities to further their relationship by using up-front communication to establish clear role expectations and clear processes for sharing information.

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