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Funding provided for veterinary communication program

PULLMAN – Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has attracted a major corporate partner with a pledge of $150,000 to fund its pioneering clinical communication efforts.

Schering-Plough Animal Health Corp. has provided $150,000 to the WSU program. SPAH is a leading manufacturer and marketer of biologicals, pharmaceuticals and specialty products for animals. A portion of the gift will also establish the Schering-Plough Animal Health Graduate Fellowship in Veterinary Communication. The remainder will be used to further develop
and implement an effective clinical communication teaching curriculum that can be applied in the training of veterinarians worldwide.

“We are grateful to Schering-Plough for sharing the vision we have to advance veterinary medicine through effective clinical communication,” said Warwick Bayly, dean of WSU’s veterinary college. “There isn’t a more important challenge facing veterinarians than building unmatched communication skills within the sphere of practice. This alliance further validates our groundbreaking communication efforts, and allows us to now take this program beyond WSU to veterinary colleges worldwide.”

The WSU College of Veterinary Medicine communication program is modeled after a similar, highly successful effort in human medical education validated by abundant research. Research shows solid clinical communication programs result in better medical outcomes for patients, fewer malpractice claims, and efficient, stable workplace conditions for employees. In short, it means better medicine.

National studies continue to show that communication is an area of veterinary medical training that is underdeveloped, while the costs of poor communication are considerable. The same studies show compliance-based medicine is highly dependent upon a foundation of effective communication skills.

“This is an opportunity for us to help transform veterinary medicine by building a stronger bond between the veterinarian and the animal owner,” said Rick Sibbel, a veterinarian and director, Global Technical Services at SPAH. “We couldn’t be more excited about extending this critical program beyond Washington State University and sharing it with the world.”

Joining WSU to head up the program is Professor Suzanne Kurtz, one of the originators of the Calgary-Cambridge communication model for doctor-patient communications and an internationally recognized leader in the teaching clinical communication in human medicine. Kurtz is among the world’s foremost clinical communication authorities and with colleagues revolutionized medicine’s recognition of communication as an essential clinical skill. Her books and teaching guides are published in eight languages and are used worldwide.

“This new corporate sponsorship program gives us the tools we need, to take our program to the next level,” said Bayly. “Part of our campaign includes original research specific to measuring the impact of improved clinical communication on the profession, so we can validate the program’s value.”

SPAH is a unit of Schering-Plough Corporation, a trusted name in pharmaceutical and health care products worldwide. Schering-Plough’s net sales in 2006 were approximately $10.6 billion.

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