Spring 2017

The Art and Science of Communication

Communication is at the heart of all we do in veterinary medicine. When clinicians share information with the family of an ill animal, or a scientist publishes findings that advance our understanding of disease or a faculty member teaches a student—all require skilled communications.

Now more than ever, we as veterinary educators understand that competency in communications is as important to our graduates as the ability to complete a surgical procedure or diagnose a disease. Veterinarians, physicians and other health-care providers are expected to use evidence-based thinking and to convey their conclusions in straightforward language.

Scientists and health professionals are doing a better job of helping the public and policymakers understand the value of data in making sound decisions. Whether the issue is climate change, cancer or the latest pandemic disease threat, scientists must be prepared to tell their stories in understandable and compelling ways to broad audiences.

Organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science have long encouraged scientists to reach out beyond the laboratory to share their expertise and promote the importance of research and discovery to our national welfare. The recent March for Science, a nonpartisan, pro-science rally, did just that—from the Boston Common to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to more than 400 other rallies and marches in more than 35 countries worldwide.

Scientific research and the creation of knowledge are necessary to spur economies and innovation, inform policy and education, and improve the health and well-being of animals, people and the environment. You will read in this issue about how veterinary clinicians, medical doctors and scientists worked together to solve the puzzle of a virally induced cancer in cats, feline leukemia, which led to key observations about the cause of HIV/AIDS in people. Without effective communication, this would not have happened.

We are proud to introduce our students to the art of communication throughout the veterinary curriculum and especially in their clinical year. I hope you will share in our pride when you read about the renovated Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals and the importance of compassionate, expert communication there.

We are grateful for the special friends and donors, faculty, staff and students who helped us renovate our busiest teaching hospital. Dr. Henry Foster, founding father of our school, original benefactor of the Foster Hospital and a pioneer in laboratory animal medicine, understood the power of communication and helped lay a foundation at the school for excellence in scientific advocacy that endures.

Deborah Turner Kochevar, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Top Stories

Curiosity Saved the Cats

The untold story of how a small team of researchers saved the lives of millions of felines—and helped identify the cause of AIDS.

Live From Morocco

How veterinary students are learning to treat donkeys, mules and horses a world away.

Best of Breed

A $10 million renovation of the Foster Hospital creates expanded new spaces for pets to receive first-rate care.

The 50-Ton Patient

How do you study animals you can’t fit on an exam table? Rosalind Rolland, V84, is glad you asked.

Editor's Picks

The Goodness of Grains

Veterinary nutritionist Cailin Heinze weighs in on "grain-free" pet foods.

5 Ways to Protect Your Pet from Lyme Disease

Cats don't get it, but the bacteria can cause real problems for dogs

Betting the Farm

Fifty years ago, there were 1,600 dairy farms in Connecticut. Today there are 120. Those that remain are in a constant struggle for survival. Here’s the story of how one family farm, now in its fourth generation, is fighting to innovate and grow with the help of a Cummings School vet

Doggone DNA

All dogs and cats are at risk for inherited health problems. Understanding them can benefit animal and human health