Respect is a cornerstone for building relationships with parents of all kinds

As I’ve mentioned before, I find that a lot of what’s written by and for physicians can be thought-provoking for veterinarians as well. This morning I found myself reading this post by physician Dr. Andrew Cronyn that brought to mind our challenges as veterinarians.

The topic? Vaccines.  Dr. Cronyn writes:

The medical community has lost a lot of ground on communicating the necessity of vaccines. For years, we told our patients “now it’s time for the shots” and our patients signed consent forms and stuffed vaccine information sheets in their bags. We walked out of the room, leaving our staff to inject. We didn’t talk about the diseases we were preventing. We didn’t talk about the millions of lives we were saving. We made huge gains in preventing illness, and it was so easy.

Then, the landscape changed. Bad science gave parents doubts. Horrible diseases were controlled in the developed world, and we forgot to be scared.

Sound familiar? It does to me. Over the weekend as I was glancing at the stream of posts floating by social media, I tripped across a furor over the death of a pet fox confiscated by animal control officials. Amongst all the anger over the death of this “innocent” and “friendly” animal — and who knows that the real story is — was a comment that even if the animal were rabid, it’s not as if there aren’t shots for that, right?

Such a flip dismissal of one of the deadliest of diseases stopped me in my tracks. But I guess it shouldn’t have.  While we’ve established vaccine protocols  for cats and for dogs that balance risk and benefit while protecting animals and people both, it’s not hard to find people who are adamantly against any vaccinations for their pets. They don’t understand the risks to their pets or to themselves. Not even of rabies.

Dr. Cronyn’s way of dealing with parents who are against vaccinations seems pretty reasonable, especially this point:

 I will treat parents respectfully, and they will treat me respectfully. I won’t be condescending or dismissive, and they won’t accuse me of endangering children or getting rich from Big Pharma. If they change their mind about vaccinating, I won’t say, “I told you so.”

Respect is key, and the road goes both ways. I think it’s important that we give our pet-owners credit for educating themselves, don’t you? I’m not saying at all that you give Dr. Google status that’s not deserved, but that you show your clients respect for trying to do best by their pets. And that includes what they’re doing at the moment you’re talking to them — showing you the respect of seeking out your expert advice.  That’s a good place to start a good working relationship, it seems to me.


A few more notes from around the Internet:

 When feline practitioners adopt canines: Not all goes as planned, and sometimes things go very badly indeed. But at least a smart doctor knows where to get help.  I can’t tell which of the 17 veterinarians at the group blog FelineDocs wrote about the difficult integration of a new dog into a household of cats, but the advice is sound: Ask a veterinarian when you need behavior advice … even if you’re a veterinarian.

NAVC sets attendance record: I thought it seemed  crowded! The North American Veterinary Community conference set an attendance record of 16,305 — up from 15,691 the year previous and reversing the slight decline from 15,825 in 2012. The 2014 numbers included 6,296 veterinarians, 870 veterinary students, 1,512 veterinary technicians and 583 practice managers.

WVC study release stirs conversation: At the Western Veterinary Conference we took a deeper dive into our data from the VPI-Veterinary Economics Financial Health Study, offering back-to-back sessions that included what we hope is the beginning of conversation on how to get our profession back on strong financial footing. If you haven’t seen the study, you can download a White Paper at the “Access the Library” link in the right rail of this blog. And keep an eye on the work the team at Veterinary Economics/ is doing with the information.

Are some days more dangerous for pets than others?  Our data suggests that might be the case. Read the article on this subject that I wrote for Vetstreet. And by the way, you can probably quit worrying about full-moons. Our researchers are digging up more information for sharing all the time. Case in point: I was thrilled to see our dental health graphic shared widely.