Lessons learned: Veterinary practice for clients with special needs

Presented in San Francisco, CA, October 21, 2000

by

Caroline B. Schaffer, DVM
College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health
Tuskegee University
and
Lynn J. Anderson, DVM, MSW
American Humane Association
Denver, CO
 
Presentation Overview: Just as the AIDS epidemic has provided important lessons on the healing power of the human-animal bond, a growing sensitivity to the human-animal bond has provided important lessons that are changing the way veterinarians practice their profession. Until recently, the average veterinarian focused exclusively on meeting the medical and surgical needs of his/her patients. Now many in the profession are redefining themselves as veterinary family practitioners.
 
The objectives of this lecture on veterinary medical practice for clients with special needs are to:
  1. help animal owners and veterinarians to walk in each other's shoes,
  2. sensitize veterinarians to the diverse needs of their clients as well as their patients,
  3. show practical ways veterinarians and clients can improve communication with one another,
  4. start a dialog between veterinary family practitioners and clients regarding the comprehensive needs of their clients, and
  5. encourage a multidisciplinary approach to veterinary medical practice.
Squeezed into this 90-minute discussion will be an exploration of what constitutes a client with special needs, how veterinarians can best serve their clients with special needs, when clients should make their special needs known to their veterinarians, who in the health fields belong on a pet's health care team, and why veterinarians should strive to be veterinary family practitioners.
 
Drs. Lynn J. Anderson and Caroline B. Schaffer will explore with conference participants evidence of the changing role of veterinarians. They will provide opportunities for both veterinarians and animal owners at the Year 2000 International Summit on the Healing Power of the Human-Animal Bond to communicate with one another. They will encourage conference participants who own pets to describe ways in which they want veterinarians to better meet their special needs. They will ask veterinarians at the conference to describe ways they want their clients to assertively seek assistance from them so that they, as veterinary family practitioners, can better understand and meet their special needs.
 
Dr. Anderson will give his observations as a consultant to the Army Surgeon General. Dr. Schaffer will share her experiences as an academician at Tuskegee University's College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health and a veterinarian in small animal practice.