VML: Providing Information for Clients in Your Practice
Here are some questions for you to consider in planning and budgeting for client information for your physical location or your practice website:
Do you want to directly provide the information to clients, make it available for the taking, or both opportunities?
Do you need materials to occupy people in the waiting room?
Do you need materials written for children accompanying parents?
- Wall Space - Wall-Mounted Display Racks or Posters
- Counter Space - Free-Standing Displays, Multiple Business Card Holders, etc.
- Floor Space - Free-Standing displays must be stable around moving pets.
- Drawer/File Space - Materials are only handed out by practice staff.
Funds: Print materials or ongoing website maintenance must be budgeted as a practice expense. Member discounts generally apply to association-produced brochures. Planning to offer only free materials can be a strategy, but free materials may not be available for those topics you need. Drug or pet company-sponsored materials are often free, but should be reviewed closely to ensure that there is no bias.
Online Materials: If you choose to rely on web-based information, do you have access to high quality, fast printing equipment, with the option to print in color when color is necessary to convey the content?
Promotion: What are your goals in giving out the materials? If you hope to create follow-up or referral contacts, consider ordering customized materials or stamping/labeling the brochures with your practice contact information. This adds cost and staff time, but it may be worth it as a business strategy.
Language and Readability of Material: Materials should make things more understandable for clients. Look for relevant, high-quality images and good use of white space – formal assessment can be done with checklists on assessment of materials. Do you need material in Spanish or other languages? See Language Spoken at Home demographics from the Census for your area [sample: Wake County data]. The NCSU Libraries has a list of free online Spanish Animal Health Information Resources.
- Preventive Care
- Common Conditions
- Common Procedures
- Drug Information Resources
- Emergency Preparedness
- Grief, Euthanasia, Memorial Services [not on display]
- American Kennel Club - AKC Veterinary Network
- Animal Licensing Registration Forms
- Pet Insurance or Other Financial Programs
- Tertiary Veterinary Services
- Behaviorists or Trainers
- Groomers or Boarding [if you do not provide these services in-house]
- Pet Stores
- Dog Walkers, Pet Taxis, and other service personnel
Sources of Information
Colleges of Veterinary Medicine
Educational resources for the public are frequently available from colleges of veterinary medicine. They may not be centrally located, so search around the program areas that are relevant to your practice. Samples below:
- Washington State University - Pet Health Topics, College of Veterinary Medicine
- Cornell University - Cat Health Information: Cornell Feline Health Center
- Colorado State University - Grief Resources: Argus Institute for Families and Veterinary Medicine
- Animal Health Literacy Campaign - Center for Veterinary Medicine, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Pet Travel Information - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Many organizations provide free online materials and/or offer print versions for sale. Look for headings like "Client Education," "Consumer Information," "Public Information, "Animal Health Information" etc. Samples are listed below.
- American Veterinary Medical Association
Ordering Information: http://ebusiness.avma.org/EBusiness50/ProductCatalog/ProductMixMatch.aspx
See PDFs of 35 different brochures, which can also be ordered in Spanish.
- Association for Avian Veterinarians
Ordering Information: Bird Care Brochures.
- American Association of Equine Practitioners
They have brochures for sale at $12 per pack of 25. The Client Brochure series is provided by the AAEP, together with Educational Partners Bayer Healthcare - Animal Health Division and Purina Mills.
Published Books or DVDs of Client Education Materials
Samples in the Veterinary Medicine Library include:
- Small Animal Practice Handouts / Rhea Morgan. Elsevier, 2011.
- Client handouts : equine / Deidre M. Carson, Sidney W. Ricketts. Guelph, Ont. : Lifelearn, c2003.
- Veterinary drug handbook: Client information Edition / Ed. Gigi Davidson, Donald C. Plumb. Ames, Iowa : Distributed by Iowa State Press, c2003.
Other Information Sources
Consider carefully the source and potential bias of all educational materials. Vendor-produced or vendor-supplied is not the same as vendor-underwritten or supported work produced in collaboration with professional organizations.
- Merck Manual, Pet Health Edition
- The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine provides good information, especially on Pet Foods, but the client information is often intermingled with the professional information.
- VeterinaryPartner.com is a client health information portal from the Veterinary Information Network.
Visit the VML's CVM Instruction Support page for other educational materials.
Contact Veterinary Medicine Library Staff for support with exploring any of the considerations mentioned above, or other questions you might have.