Anthony L. Suchman, MD, of the University of Rochester defines relationship-centered care (RCC) as a clinical philosophy that stresses partnership, careful attention to relational process, shared decision-making, and self-awareness.1 The term was originated in a milestone monograph written in 1994 by the Pew-Fetzer Task Force entitled Health Professions Education and Relationship-Centered Care.
While founded in human medicine, the four principles of RCC also apply to relationships with animal health care providers. They are:
∂ Relationships in health care should include the personhood of the participants.
∑ Emotion is an important components of these relationships.
∏ All health care relationships occur in the context of reciprocal influence.
π Forming and maintaining genuine relationships in health care is morally valuable.2
Simply stated, relationship-centered care in veterinary medicine leads to a positive, meaningful relationship between clients and the veterinary team. In her book Client Satisfaction Pays: Quality Service for Practice Success, Carin Smith, DVM, writes that “the connection between the veterinarian and client is the thread that weaves client satisfaction and a successful practice together. It’s what makes clients feel loyal, follow instructions, pay their bills on time, forgive mistakes, feel confidence about your competence, and send friends to your practice.”3
1. A New Theoretical Foundation for Relationship-Centered Care: Complex Responsive Processes of Relating. Suchman AL. J Gen Intern Med 21(Suppl1):S40-44, 2006.
2. Relationship-Centered Care: A Constructive Reframing. Beach MC, Inui T. Relationship-Centered Care Research Network. J Gen Intern Med 21(Suppl1):S3-S8, 2006.
3. Client Satisfaction Pays: Quality Service for Practice Success. Smith C. Brown S. Wood S, et al. Amer Animal Hosp Assn, 1998.