Good veterinarians must be experts in cutting-edge animal medicine, and an education from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine has long instilled such skills.
Great veterinarians, however, must know how to share that knowledge with clients; listening and talking to pet owners with both clarity and compassion.
And a gift from the Veterinary College's Class of 1970 will ensure future graduates begin their careers with those skills as well.
The "Class of 1970 Communication and Learning Center" will utilize two rooms on the second floor of the Veterinary Medicine Academic Building to train and assess students in effective veterinarian-client communications by simulating the veterinary hospital examination room. One-way glass and video cameras will allow for feedback from faculty, staff and students so students may learn how effective their client communication is—and how they might improve.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $275,000, with more than $200,000 already raised.
The idea has support from the highest level, as it was Dr. Lonnie King, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, who first broached his classmates with the idea to honor the 40th anniversary of their graduation from Ohio State.
"I have talked to a lot of employers of our students and new veterinarians, and a consistent message is that we have wonderful students in terms of ability in science and technology, but we also need to consider non-technical skills and competencies," said Dr. King. "One of those keys is communication skills—the ability to talk to clients and relate to the public, whether they are in government or public practice or academe."
Dr. Leonard Tinney was on the committee organized to develop a class gift, and he said support for the idea was overwhelming,
"We all thought it was a great idea, because it would have such an impact on the profession and affect the quality of education of the students," he said. "We see a lot of students get out and struggle with working in an exam room, talking with clients," he said. "They seem to have all the ability and a great education, but the appropriate way to communicate what to do for a patient is lacking. It is important in all health professions to be able to communicate well with patients, but especially in veterinary medicine, where the patient does not speak for or to you.
Currently, a one-hour, quarter-based class is taught in the professional development curriculum is designed to provide students with a variety of communication skills. But that course provides only lecture-based learning, and the goal of this gift is to provide students with the opportunity to practice these skills in simulated veterinary hospital examination rooms as part of this course.
"This idea resonated, because we all feel communication is very important," Dr. Harold Albert, another 1970 graduate, said. "Without the College of Veterinary Medicine, I would not be where I am today. I am not a wealthy person, but because of being a veterinarian I have become a rich person emotionally and in my own heart."
Dr. Albert added that the chance to give back to the college and profession that gave him so much was also a key reason he wanted to be involved.
"Giving forward with a project like this, I want to try to help other people achieve the same happiness I was able to find."