Mrs. Baker runs into the clinic with Beau, her beloved family cat, who has been hit by a car. From your triage examination, you determine that Beau’s leg is broken and he is in shock. Your team begins stabilization. You present Mrs. Baker with an initial treatment plan and the cost estimate. Her face turns pale and she starts to cry. Carefully working through this discussion is integral to caring for Beau and sustaining your relationship with the Baker family.
Discussing finances with clients is crucial, yet research indicates that these conversations are not commonplace.1 Stress, privacy, and strong emotional ties may heighten emotions on both sides. The well-being of animal companions that depend on their caregivers as their advocates is often at stake. That pressure can weigh heavily on caregivers who wish they could afford the full treatment plan and veterinarians who feel guilty that they cannot do more for their patient and client.
Communication tools can turn a stressful financial discussion into a successful action plan. Whether you are presenting an estimate, delivering emergency treatment costs, or working with a client who has limited funds, start with a strong foundation of trust.