MINDFUL COMMUNICATION IN VETERINARY MEDICINE

We spend large parts of our days communicating - we connect with loved ones, we send text messages or emails, we make phone calls, we provide directions and details, we schedule activities and events, maybe we make social media posts, we support and encourage those around us - there are so many ways that we are constantly communicating throughout the day.

There are many ways that we communicate - not just with our voice, but also with our body language, our gentle touch, and our caring presence.


In veterinary medicine communication is key. You need to communicate clearly with co-workers, clients, and with your patients. When I interviewed over 100 veterinarians and vet professionals - communication constantly came up - with many veterinary professionals sharing that it can be difficult to communicate complex information to clients, to respond to clients who are upset and disrespectful, and to have tough conversations with clients about the financial decisions related to patient care.


Mindfulness, or present moment awareness, can support us with communication. We can use mindfulness practices to help us really tune in and to listen to a loved one or client, to stay focused when sharing details or making plans, to prepare for a difficult conversation, and to help us navigate our emotions before, during, and after communicating with those in our personal and professional lives.


A recent study by Sweet, Gentile, & He published in 2021 in the journal Health Communication explored the relationship between mindfulness, communication, and mental health with veterinary medicine students.


They found that mindfulness had a positive relationship with students’ willingness to communicate, while depression, anxiety and stress had a negative relationship with willingness to communicate and communication apprehension. They also found that mindfulness had a direct negative relationship with communication apprehension. The authors write that “these findings suggest that mindfulness training may mitigate depression, anxiety, and stress and their attendant effects on communication apprehension and willingness to communicate.”


Given these findings, it is timely to explore how mindfulness can support communication and the mental health connections in regards to communication in veterinary medicine - and the practices that we offer at Peace Within can help you do just that.