Don’t be yourself (in your next parasite prevention conversation)

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Don’t be yourself (in your next parasite prevention conversation)

What do a scientist, a showman, a saver and a conspiracy theorist have in common? They’re all roles you can play when educating veterinary clients about the perils of parasites.
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Jul 06, 2018

Tackling parasite prevention conversations day after day can be a beast. Switching up your mane approach could make clients more receptive. (Shutterstock.com)Do you ever feel like your parasite prevention recommendations are just going in one ear and out the other? Are you tired of launching into your normal prevention speech only to be interrupted by a “no, thanks,” or an “I don’t need that, Doc”? 

Perhaps the infamous breakup line applies: It’s not them. It’s you. In other words, it may be time to break out of your usual mold and try a new client educator role on for size. Here are a handful that might fit:

The scientist

For clients who favor a logical approach, put on your best lab coat and lay out the cold hard facts and compelling statistics. Stick to things like methods of transmission and disease incidence and employ charts and maps to illustrate. If the straight white coat approach is too boring for you, add a geeky twist by putting a little Mr. Spock, Dr. Who or Sherlock Holmes into the role—all in an effort to help our patients live long and prosper!

The showman

The world is but a stage and its people merely players, so channel your inner thespian and concentrate on the drama. Connect with clients who are emotional learners by impressing them with the gravity of the situation. Help them see how they are preventing serious problems for their beloved furry family members (jars of worms and pictures of diseased organs can help). After all, the best feeling for such clients is the strong bond they share with their pets. 

The saver

Everyone likes a bargain. Appeal to particularly cost-conscious clients by showing them the dollars and cents. Demonstrate that for just pennies a day (or in some practices, 12 easy payments), the client can be the proud owner of a healthy pet. Compare costs of prevention versus treatment for expensive problems to drive home the value of prevention. But wait—there’s more! By investing in prevention, these clients can also prevent their families from contracting costly diseases of their own! Stopping zoonotic disease is a bonus that’s thrown in at no extra charge.

The conspiracy theorist

If there can be conspiracies against using preventives, why not conspire to make pets healthier? Don your own tinfoil hat and commiserate with conspiracy theorist clients: “It’s not big pharma and the new world order trying to poison your pets, it’s the cult of celebrity and fake news peddlers trying to sell you worthless flimflam.” Just remember that it’s not paranoia when there’s actually something out there (like bloodsucking parasites) trying to get you.

Regardless of the role (or combinations of roles) you choose, the point is to have a little fun with what can feel like a tedious and futile duty. A new approach might just turn the typical “no, thanks” into a “no, I hadn’t heard that—tell me more.”

Michael Nappier is assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia.