Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Interprofessional survey on communication skills in veterinary and veterinary-related education in Germany

Background

Communication is an indispensable skill in the everyday working life of a veterinary team. In German higher educational institutions, communication skills training is explicitly mentioned in the curricula of veterinary assistants, including veterinary nurses and veterinary technicians, and of animal keepers, but not for undergraduate veterinary medicine. Little is known about interprofessional education in veterinary medicine and related professions. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to describe and explore the current interprofessional state of knowledge regarding communication skills of the aforementioned groups in Germany.

Methods

To explore the perception, assess the knowledge and identify the attitude regarding communication skills and interprofessional training, an online survey was distributed. The survey was sent to all five veterinary higher educational institutions, 38 schools for veterinary assistants and 15 schools for animal keepers throughout Germany.

Results

In total, 294 veterinary students, 111 veterinary assistant trainees and 62 animal keeper trainees participated. The majority of participants (98.07%, n = 458) perceived communication skills as highly important for their everyday work. In total, 413 participants (88.44%) felt that their communication skills needed improvement and more than half admitted having difficulties in effective communication (59.31%; n = 277). In addition, 62.74% of respondents (n = 293) were not sufficiently informed about the training content of their future colleagues. Most were convinced that training could positively influence on their communication with clients (95.72%; n = 447) and the team (92.29%; n = 431), and 76.45% of respondents (n = 357) wished to participate in an interprofessional training.

Conclusions

Results of this study confirm that communication skills are perceived as highly important for professional life. Students and trainees show a great interest in communication skills and interprofessional training. The findings indicate that appropriate adjustments to existing curricula are necessary in Germany.

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