DVM Newsmaker's Summit: A changing business model - DVM
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DVM Newsmaker's Summit: A changing business model
Societal shifts to make lasting changes on the business of veterinary medicine


Across the street from the veterinary school is Penn's Wharton business school, which kind of sits with its arms folded and makes tons of money. I have reached out to them to see if they could provide some insight on an entire profession that has shifted its gender from overwhelming male dominated when I joined 30 years ago to female dominated. I thought they would find it fascinating to study and would perhaps join the academic process in thinking through scenario planning. I have yet to have them bite. It's a group that is accustomed to thinking about business planning, and I'm continuing to try to work with them. Maybe we can get some help at some point.

Dr. Block: One of things that I read in a DVM Newsmagazine survey was that 50 percent of female new graduates wanted to either own a practice or wanted a stake in a practice. I guess one of my questions is: How does that compare to male new graduates? Is this problem as big a problem as we think it is? The second thing that I bring to the table since we're talking about changing business models is I don't if anyone saw the article in DVM Newsmagazine highlighted the fact that a veterinary practice's staff in Pennsylvania unionized. I've wondered what the potential impact would be of unionization in our profession for both support staff and potentially veterinarians.

Dr. Beaver: As it was pointed out, a number of veterinary school students are forming business clubs. There's certainly an interest, and they are starting to express interest in an area I think is really going to take off. It's a hot idea right now. Quality of life concern is definitely a generational issue that has been shown in a number of studies. I think one thing that's also been pointed out in some of these studies is that the primary responsibility for raising the children still falls on the mother. As long as we become a more female-oriented profession, we're going to find that there's going to be more interest by veterinarians in part-time, as opposed to full-time, work especially while children are young. We certainly see that in association work. The closer to home the association is, the more active women veterinarians tend to be. But when the children enter high school or college or beyond, they become more active at the state and national levels. The studies are showing that generation Xers and the generation just before are now actually becoming more interested in owning practices because they've been watching their parents suffer through fiascos like Enron. Currently we hear a lot about new veterinarians not wanting to own practices, but a lot of that is actually a reflection of a generational trend. The recent graduates don't but as this next group comes up, we're going to see increased interest in owning practices. There are certainly a number of legal issues starting to pop up, and I think the legal issues may also dictate a lot of what we see relative to practice ownership and whether practices merge or stay solo. That's going to become an even larger concern within the profession as time passes. As young veterinarians graduate and become employees, there's a stronger tendency to want to work from 8 to 5.

As educators and mentors, we all play a roll in ensuring that these younger colleagues view themselves as professionals and not just somebody holding down a job.

Ms. Richard: I am going to jump in on a couple points because so many legal issues have been presented. But in addition to that I will tell you that my father is a veterinarian. Having just sold his practice in this past year, he is a very interesting statistic in my mind because after having been a solo practitioner for 45 years, he sold his practice to one of the relief veterinarians working for him for about six years. Maybe right out of school these people aren't sure what they want to do, or they think they don't want to be practice owners, but after a few years of getting experience under their belts and working in different practices, a lot of those people who initially say they don't want to own a practice are coming back and changing their minds and moving into ownership.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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