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Guiding Pet Owners Through Difficult Decisions with Dr. Moses

Lisa Moses, VMD, DACVIM, Harvard Medical School

In this episode, host Alyssa Watson, DVM, is joined by Lisa Moses, VMD, DACVIM, to talk about her recent Clinician’s Brief article, “Top 5 Tips for Guiding Pet Owners Through Difficult Decisions.” Dr. Moses shares strategies for how to communicate with clients in emotionally challenging situations, with a focus on goals of care and client and patient comfort. She also emphasizes the importance of caring for ourselves in the process.

Key Takeaways

  • A goals-of-care conversation is a planned, systematic conversation to have with a family when there is some major change happening in a patient’s care. 
  • Moral distress is the negative feelings that are produced when you know what the right thing is to do in the course of your work but there is an obstacle that prevents you from doing it.
  • Directly asking your client what’s the worst thing they are worried about for their pet can lead you to define specific goals. For example, if the client’s biggest fear is that their dog is going to die before their son returns from college in a month, then the goal becomes ensuring the dog’s comfort for the next month. 
  • It’s important to let the client be the person who drives the pace of the conversation. Using mindfulness techniques can help to keep you from rushing the conversation.
  • If you give a family the space to talk about things that are most important to them first, then they will feel much more comfortable talking about other things like finances.

About Our Guest

Lisa Moses, VMD, DACVIM, is a faculty member at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics, is a research fellow at Yale’s Interdiciplinary Center for Bioethics, and holds a visiting scientist appointment at The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She was a senior staff member at the MSPCA’s flagship Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, for almost 30 years, during which time she founded and directed the only veterinary pain and palliative care practice in a veterinary referral hospital.

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The Team:

  • Alyssa Watson, DVM - Host
  • Alexis Ussery - Producer & Digital Content Coordinator
  • Randall Stupka - Podcast Production & Sound Editing
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