Overview for New and Prospective Clients
What are the Diagnostic Challenges?
The Diagnostic Challenges are
multidisciplinary, case-based exercises offered to veterinary
students during the second year of vet school. Conducted
collaboratively by instructors and visiting veterinarians in the
fall semester, the Diagnostic Challenge (DC) strives to encourage
students to apply the knowledge and problem-solving skills learned
in the classroom to simulated clinical cases. For 4 days during two
designated weeks of the second year, large blocks of time are
created during which students, divided into groups or "clinics" of
4-5 students, are assigned a clinical case to investigate and
diagnose. Although no live animals are used, each case has a client
who represents the patient (which may be a dog, cat, horse, sheep or
any other domestic or exotic animal) as owner or caretaker. Working
with the client and learning to interact effectively
with the other students in the clinic bring some important
(nonscientific) educational issues into the DC experience.
DC Student Clinic preparing to speak with their client.
Why is "effective client interaction" in veterinary medicine important?
Veterinary medicine is a profession that deals with animals and people.
Veterinary students spend four years learning the scientific knowledge and
technical skills they will need in order to diagnose and treat the animals
under their care. However, very little time in the curriculum is devoted to
the "people skills" which are also needed to be a successful veterinarian.
The ability to communicate and listen effectively and to be sensitive to a
client's individual circumstances are just as important in veterinary
medicine as they are in human medicine. Because animals can't talk, a
positive relationship between veterinarian and client can be significant in
the veterinarian's ability to help the patient. Second year veterinary
students are just learning these communication skills. At this stage, the
opportunity to explain things and answer questions is invaluable. We often
think we understand something until someone asks us to explain it!
Why are Diagnostic Challenges important?
The DC's provide an innovative way for veterinary students to begin
developing good client skills early in the curriculum. Volunteers who are
unknown to the students (i.e. community members, alumni, non-DVM faculty,
etc.) have proven to be the most realistic and effective simulated clients.
With guidance from faculty facilitators and some imaginative role playing,
these volunteers provide an excellent opportunity for students to
incorporate the human side of veterinary medicine into their education. In
addition, most students find that working with clients not only improves
their communication skills but also increases their knowledge and
understanding of the subject matter because they have to be able to answer
client questions and logically explain the conditions of the case. Learning
is enhanced because the students must understand the material well enough to
educate the client.
What do volunteer clients get out of this experience?
||Volunteer clients have a unique opportunity to
participate in the educational process of veterinary students.
Although the time commitment is large for three days, most clients
enjoy the experience and feel that they have been able to contribute
to the development of the next generation of veterinarians.
A DC client with one of her two assigned "clinics"
What kind of time commitment is required?
DC clients need to be in Pullman on the day before the DC begins to meet
with their assigned facilitator and go through the details of their case -
so Sunday or Monday afternoon, depending on whether there is a Monday or
Tuesday start. You need to be available to meet with the students pretty
much all day on Days 1-3, and sometimes students may need to call you in the
evenings (depending on your case). Plan to be here until at least 5 pm on
Wednesday. Many clients like to attend the student presentations (DC Grand
Rounds) on Thursday or Friday - but that is by no means required. See
EXPECTATIONS for more information on time requirements and an example of
How can I get more information or become a volunteer client?
New clients are welcome. If you would like to volunteer or would
like further information, please contact Dr. Steve Hines, Department of
Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine -
335-6069 or email@example.com.