In search of balance
Male or female, it's evident that younger generations make work-life balance a high priority. Participants in the State of
the Profession survey stated that a lack of balance in their career and personal life was their greatest professional fear
(see Table 2). There seems to be a keen awareness that ownership would put that balance at further risk.
Table 2: What veterinarians fear
Cott admits that the ownership decline may have less to do with gender and more to do with generation. "We (the older generation)
were not in two-income families," he says. "One has to have flexibility for family life."
Moland thinks part of the reason may be that she and her peers haven't often seen the process modeled. "We grew up in a generation
where businesses were generally not home-grown and built from the ground up," she says. "It's possible that we're simply accustomed
to other people taking care of the business as a whole, and many of us are happy to simply be doctors."
Finch says that she, for one, is content to "simply" be a doctor. "I love being a veterinarian and putting all of my professional
energy into doing that well," she says. "I personally don't want to own because I love the role I have in veterinary medicine
"It's common to think of success in this career as linear," she continues. "If you're an associate, you're pretty successful.
If you're an owner, you're more successful. And if you're an owner making lots of money, you're the most successful. I think
success is much broader and deeper than that. You can reach your full potential as an associate in the right situation if
that's what you were meant to do. I think that's true of me. I'm very happy with my career and where it's headed."
As the profession expands and opportunities extend beyond private general practice, Cott says he sees more students obtaining
advanced degrees, which he cites as another factor in decreasing ownership. "Those people who are going to become specialists
are not looking into ownership at all," he says. "They're going to go work for a specialty group owned by a corporation or
a larger group of people."
In fact, Cott thinks that's what the future will look like. "The new normal will be larger practices with a corporate mindset,
more like the MDs have done," he says. "The one- or two-man practice may be fading away." In support of this theory, the State
of the Profession study found an increase in the number of corporate-owned practices in participants' neighborhoods since
2009 (see Table 3).
Table 3: Corporate-owned practices on the rise