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I don’t know about you but I look at what’s available to my children now in terms of the support materials they have available for their GCSEs and I think “…fantastic, how good would we have been if we’d had teaching and revision materials like that!!!... and how easy would it have been to get a great result?” The same is true of what’s available to you now if you want to pass a theory test to drive a car or motorcycle. The materials are well presented with interactive sessions that keep your attention engaged and available online, offline or even on your phone.

And then of course you come to actually have to do what it is you’ve been studying for. You get in the car and tell yourself that you know all the theory, maybe you got 100% in that theory test…and yet it doesn’t feel as familiar as you thought it would. The instructor tells you time and again what it is that needs to happen….you know you can do it but your clutch and gear changes aren’t as smooth as you know they could be with a little help. Your awareness of developing situations isn’t what you imagined it would be without that hands on practice… if only you could just inject some of somebody else’s experience into your head and assimilate it into your muscle memory. A bit of hands-on coaching and training though in a relaxed and supportive situation with the right instructor and you’re soon driving like a pro…with a bit of direction and guidance those consciously learned materials merge with the practical skills, filter into our sub-conscious and it all becomes automatic.

Communication is like that. So often we rehearse what we want to say in advance of a situation and yet it just doesn’t seem to come out right. Or what we are presented with isn’t as we anticipated and our smoothly honed patter just doesn’t flow, or fit the scenario unfolding before us. Or perhaps the time lag between you being trained to do something and actually having to do it leaves you thinking afterwards, “…oh, yes I remember that now, if only I’d said or done this.”

You’ll have read the communication theory in any one of a number of excellent veterinary journals…perhaps watched it in a webinar over a coffee. But if you want to get your hands on the wheel and step up a gear with somebody there to help you and stop you making a fool of yourself before you actually have to do it for real then what you need is the VDS communication skills course. I sat in on one such course two weeks ago and, having run numerous communication skills courses myself over the years, I left impressed.

Using professional actors and scenarios that are as close to real life as possible to enact the kind of situations you face every day - and with the dual controls in the hands of professional instructors - you can learn to face those difficult manoeuvres with all the support and safety nets in place to accelerate learning and hone your skills.

So imagine…you’ve got to do that CPD anyway so it might as well be doing something you can learn to drive the following day or week. Just as you learned to drive, just as you became a better driver by building on somebody else’s experience and yours, or maybe even an excellent driver if you went off and had further coaching after you passed, you can make a gear change right now that can help you become an excellent communicator every day.

Learn to face the open road of veterinary practice without fear, turn those difficult situations into an exciting challenge and book yourself onto a VDS communication skills course; there is something there for you and every other member of your practice team and I heartily recommend them.
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