Don't shelve that veterinary associate contract - DVM
News Center
DVM Featuring Information from:


Don't shelve that veterinary associate contract
Regular review of your employment contract can lead to better work relationships and a healthier bottom line


Account for commissions

Veterinary practices are notorious for permitting employees to misunderstand what's credited toward associates' commission or productivity calculations. I've seen instances in which associates have discovered, sometimes after years of employment, that their clinics never credited them as the associate expected or laid out in the contract.

Some of the more commonly disputed services and procedures include:

> Dental procedures performed by technicians

> Radiographs taken by technicians

> Follow-up diagnostics on an associate's ongoing case

> Parasite control medication dispensed subsequent to an office call

> Vaccines administered by technicians on an associate's patient.

Practice owners should spell out what's counted in commissions and productivity bonuses, and associates should periodically check to make sure paychecks are right.

Account for bonuses

While it may seem odd, many veterinary associates are afraid to remind their employers to pay benefits specified in the employment agreement. Sometimes they're worried that the request will result in a critical performance review. Other times, associates become so wrapped up in practicing medicine that they can't remember whether they were entitled to the benefits in question or not. Was reimbursement for necessary CE really part of the contract? If it's not written, participants remember differently.

This failure to communicate becomes critical when and if the practice suffers tough economic times. Suddenly, the thousands of dollars originally promised to an associate for renewing the contract or moving from far away to come to work turns into a huge problem. It's not that rare for an associate to lose her job in tough times only to have to sue for promised benefits the practice simply can't pay.

With a little effort a few times a year, you can avoid these common—and often toxic—misunderstandings that get in the way of a healthy working relationship and a healthy bottom line. Just use your contract as your guide.

Dr. Allen is president of the Associates in Veterinary Law P.C., which provides legal and consulting services to veterinarians. Call (607) 754-1510 or visit

For a complete list of articles by Dr. Allen, visit


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
Click here