Consultations – the heart of what we do
Did you know that a vet will perform around 200,000 consultation over a professional lifetime? It's not surprising that sometimes we forget that not everyone is familiar with what happens during a consultation. Let's run through a few things so you get the most out of your pet's appointment
What to expect
While every consultation is unique, there's a standard structure. During a consultation you can expect:
- to be asked why you've brought your pet in (identifying the presenting problem or problems)
- to be asked to talk more about this problem such as when symptoms started and your pet in general (gathering a history)
- your pet to be examined (performing a physical examination)
- to discuss the physical findings in relation to the presenting problem and history (creating an accurate problem list)
- to be given a diagnosis or potential diagnoses (determining differentials)
- to discuss what happens next, which may include medical or surgical treatment, further investigation or no treatment (shared decision making and treatment planning)
- to talk about what to expect, what to watch for and what to do if worried (safety netting)
Even if you've brought your well pet in for a vaccination or check up, we'll still go through pretty much the same steps.
It can be a lot to take in
We know from studies of people seeing their doctor that when we walk out of the consultation room most of us forget what we've heard.
That's why we offer additional ways to take the information in. We can:
- email the medical notes from your consultation (note we have to have your email on file for this)
- provide other information (eg fact sheets, websites)
- have follow up discussions on the phone or in person
Questions to ask
Although these come from human medicine, here are three questions every pet owner should ask when offered a treatment or investigation:
- What are the options?
- What are the specific benefits and harms to my pet?
- What happens if I do nothing?
Additional questions you may like to ask include how much things will cost and whether they are covered by pet insurance.
Different personalities and communication styles
All our vets are highly qualified and very experienced, so you can be sure that the quality of care doesn't depend on who you see.
But we're different people with different communication styles and you might find that you just gel with Donald or really like the way Deb explains something. That's great! We encourage you to see whoever you feel most comfortable with – and none of us mind if you want to see someone else.
If your pet is having ongoing or follow up treatment, it's a good idea to see the same vet. While we write up good notes, we can never completely transfer everything from the consultation to another person. That said, sometimes another set of eye balls can be very useful.