To assess the impact of a novel communication and consultation skills model (WISE COACH [WC]) on dog owner perceptions of veterinarians and projected spending on veterinary care.
1,200 US dog owners who had visited a veterinarian within the prior 18 months.
Video recordings of 2 staged client consultations were made, with the veterinarian following the WC recommendations in one video and not following them in the other (control). Participants were randomly assigned to view one of the videos and completed an online survey to assess their perceptions and projected spending. Qualitative responses were coded to identify themes.
The veterinarian was rated significantly higher in the WC video than in the control video for the characteristics first impression, skilled and knowledgeable, cares about me, cares about my pet, and communicates clearly, and was rated significantly lower for the characteristic rushed or abrupt. Participants who viewed the WC video were significantly more likely to follow the veterinarian’s recommendations, return to see the veterinarian, and recommend the veterinarian. They were also approximately 1.4 times as likely to approve the full recommended treatment plan, and their projected total spending was approximately 15% higher than projected spending for participants who viewed the control video.
Results showed improved client perceptions, client retention, quality of patient care, and financial metrics when the veterinarian followed the WC recommendations. Further study is needed to determine whether this model may also improve veterinarian well-being by improving client relationships and decreasing resistance to recommendations.
To compare resident and intern salaries with current regional living wages as a quantitative estimate of financial strain.
152 residency programs and 141 internship programs listed with the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program for the 2021–2022 training year.
Data were collected for program annual salary and location. Regional living wage for each location was determined with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator, and annual salary was compared with living wage to estimate income surplus before and after taxes. Results for programs in academia and private practice were compared. Spearman correlation was used to determine whether program annual salary was significantly associated with regional living wage.
Mean ± SD income surplus before taxes was $7,786 ± 9,426 for clinical residency programs, $16,672 ± 5,105 for laboratory animal programs, and $5,829 ± 8,119 for internships. Academic residencies and internships offered salaries significantly lower than those offered in private practice, and income surpluses before and after taxes were significantly lower for academic programs than for private practice programs. There were weak and moderate, respectively, correlations between program annual salary and regional living wage for residency (r = 0.369) and internship (r = 0.570) programs.
Postgraduate training prolongs financial instability, and annual salaries generally do not meet the minimum income standard of a living wage. Financial stress has implications for mental health and diversity, and these findings invite deeper consideration of current remuneration practices for veterinary residents and interns.
To adapt the 3 scales of the Autonomy Preference Index to veterinary medicine and validate the 3 new scales to measure pet owner preferences for autonomy and information when making medical decisions for their pets.
10 small-animal veterinarians and 10 small-animal clients at a veterinary school–based community practice (pilot study) and 311 small-animal clients of the practice (validation study), of which 47 participated in a follow-up survey.
Wording of items in the Autonomy Preference Index was adapted, and instrument wording was finalized on the basis of feedback obtained in the pilot study to create 3 scales: the Veterinary General Decision-Making Preferences Scale (VGDMPS), Veterinary Clinical Decision-Making Preferences Scale (VCDMPS), and Veterinary Information-Seeking Preferences Scale (VISPS). The 3 scales were then validated by means of administering them to small-animal clients in a clinical setting.
The 3 scales had acceptable reliability and validity, but clients expressed concern over item wording in the VGDMPS during the pilot study. Overall, results showed that clients had a very high preference for information (mean ± SD VISPS score, 4.78 ± 0.36 on a scale from 1 to 5). Preferences for autonomy varied, but mean values reflected a low-to-moderate desire for autonomy in clinical decision-making (mean ± SD VCDMPS score, 2.04 ± 0.62 on a scale from 1 to 5).
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
The VCDMPS was a reliable and valid instrument for measuring client preferences for autonomy in clinical decision-making. Veterinarians could potentially use this instrument to better understand pet owner preferences and tailor their communication approach accordingly.