Veterinary medical student wins national communications award

Brittany Martabano

Brittany Martabano

Brittany Martabano, a fourth-year student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, has been named the 2016 national winner of the Bayer Excellence in Communication Award.

She was selected from entries representing 27 veterinary schools, which were awarded a total of $70,000 in scholarship funds through this year’s competition.

Created and funded by Bayer HealthCare LLC’s animal health division, the purpose of the award is to identify and reward veterinary students who are mastering effective communication skills. These skills are considered crucial for helping to establish strong client relationships, which in turn lead to better compliance with medications and treatment plans for their animals.

The competition challenged students to submit a filmed interview between themselves and a veterinary client in a clinical setting. A panel of faculty judges at each participating school selected a winner using a scorecard developed by nationally renowned veterinary faculty specializing in communication.

Each college-level winner received a $2,500 scholarship. Each participating school then submitted a video of its winner to compete for the additional $2,500 national scholarship award, which was selected by an independent judging panel.

“In the submission that won her the national award, Brittany exhibited exemplary communication skills from the moment she opened the exam room door,” stated an April 27 press release from Bayer Communications. “She was empathetic, clarified her understanding of the pet’s health problems and included the pet owner in the development of a plan to handle the issue.”

Martabano said her interest in communications was one of the reasons she had chosen to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

“Pet owners need to understand what their veterinarian is doing in the exam room, as well as what steps they need to take at home to keep their pets healthy,” she said. “If I can’t communicate that information to them, then I’m setting them up for failure as pet owners.”

Martabano will graduate from the UF veterinary medical college on May 28. She will begin a rotating small animal internship at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine this fall and hopes to subsequently complete a residency in ophthalmology.

The Bayer Excellence in Communication Award is one facet of a larger initiative aimed at improving the communication skills of the next generation of veterinarians. In 2001, Bayer Animal Health partnered with the Institute for Healthcare Communication to establish the Bayer Communication Project. This collaborative partnership resulted in a set of communication skills training modules offered to colleges of veterinary medicine for incorporation into their curriculum.

Selected faculty members from all U.S. veterinary colleges, including 10 from UF, have been trained via the project’s “Train-the-Trainer” program.

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