The primary purpose of this study was to compare two methods for assessing student communication skills: A labor-intensive review of video-recorded interactions and global communications assessment using a comprehensive rotation-Assessment tool. Secondary goals of the study were to evaluate student strengths and weaknesses to inform the pre-clinical communications curriculum and to evaluate for consistency between types of reviewers. Video recordings of 43 student encounters with clients presenting their animals for wellness or diagnostic appointments to the primary care service at a veterinary teaching hospital were reviewed by one of three primary care clinicians, a social worker, and a clinical communications instructor, using a common rubric. Scores using the rubric were compared with overall scores for verbal communications on a comprehensive rotation-Assessment tool, both for the primary care rotation and for other small-Animal rotations. Duration did not vary significantly between wellness and diagnostic appointments, or between dog and cat appointments. Scores achieved by students on video review varied by evaluator, with the clinical communications instructor scoring students the lowest and the social worker scoring students the highest. Strengths identified included greeting the client appropriately, gathering initial information about the reason for the visit, and using lay terminology appropriately. Weaknesses included summarizing information for the client, talking to clients about money, and making strong recommendations.
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