TUESDAYSeptember 13, 2022
Dear Veterinary Student,

Whether you have considered practice ownership or plan to enter the profession as an associate, veterinary business education has never been more crucial to your career. This weekly publication is designed to supplement your education by providing information on veterinary business including ownership and management, finance operations, communication, team building and emerging technologies that will shape the future of veterinary medicine.

Last week’s Veterinary Student Insider incorrectly referred to the author of a featured article. The article “Which business structure is right for your practice?” published in dvm360 was written by Dr. Charlotte Lacroix.

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How educating students about practice ownership can help the veterinary profession
By Breanna Demaline, Michigan State University Class of 2023, managing editor of the Veterinary Student Insider

It’s no secret that the pandemic has heightened our industry awareness of the disproportionate vet-to-patient ratio. It seems there are more pets needing veterinary care than ever before and the number of veterinarians in the field cannot compete.

There are a multitude of factors that must be considered in this dilemma. But with recent veterinary business news and trends, should we consider veterinary practice ownership a steppingstone to solving this problem?

Veterinary practices are often the place where pre-veterinary students get their first look at what being a veterinarian means day to day. These students often spend time as members of the veterinary team before deciding to apply to veterinary school. Practice ownership allows opportunity to mentor these students and educate them not only about veterinary medicine but also about operations. Additionally, veterinary practice ownership has been shown to be an effective pathway for financial security and fulfillment.

University- and student-led initiatives focusing on education about veterinary practice ownership have the potential to increase ownership, make veterinary medicine a more exciting and inspirational field, and support the future generation of veterinarians. Career fulfillment may lead to decreased burnout and fewer veterinarians exiting the field.

It is my opinion that increased veterinary business and ownership education may play a role in managing the vast veterinary shortage we are seeing today.

How will the veterinary profession address the care shortage?
The United States will need more than 41,000 additional veterinarians by 2030 if pet ownership continues its current rate of growth. But unless veterinary schools expand enrollment, the profession will fall short of that goal by about 15,000.

These findings were released in a March report from Mars Veterinary Health highlighting three studies by Dr. James Lloyd, a veterinarian, consultant at Animal Health Economics and former University of Florida dean.

Despite what the research showed, Lloyd noted it’s not feasible to meet that level of demand for new graduates, since veterinary schools would have to increase their number of yearly graduates by more than 50%.

But other avenues exist to address the shortage. Among other things, Lloyd said, a “more complete development of the roles and contributions of veterinary nurses/technicians” could help, as could the expansion of preventive health care and innovative practice models.

> Read more of this article here.

PetSmart program allowing veterinarians to open practices in retailer’s stores could be a boon for new graduates
PetSmart recently announced the launch of a business model allowing veterinarians to open independent franchised practices in the retailer’s locations.

The initiative, called PetSmart Veterinary Services, is “an independent business ownership model that gives veterinarians a way to open their own franchised practice inside a PetSmart store at a fraction of the cost of starting a new practice from the ground up,” Dr. Jennifer Bruns, vice president of business development and quality for PVS, told the American Animal Hospital Association.

Bruns said PetSmart will support practices in the program as they pursue AAHA accreditation, a requirement to operate in the retailer’s stores. Additionally, the company says it will provide practice owners with resources for marketing, information technology, construction, training, reporting and ongoing consultation.

The program is a “game-changer” for younger associate veterinarians, who have faced prohibitive costs trying to build practices, Bruns said.

> Read more of this article here.

Fellowship program gives new veterinary graduates an opportunity to learn about practice ownership
A new program from by Suveto will support recent veterinary graduates as they work toward practice ownership.

Graduation to Ownership is a two-year paid fellowship that aims to help participants master clinical skills and develop ownership acumen, among other things.

Selected participants will be matched with one of about 65 practices in Suveto’s network. Most of their time will be spent gaining hands-on experience at their clinics. They’ll also have several mentorship opportunities. After completing the fellowship, participants will have a range of ownership opportunities tailored to their specific goals and desires, the AVMA reports.

The program is set to start next summer, with 50 spots available initially. Applications will be accepted starting October 1.

> Read more of this article here.


Canadian province expands student loan forgiveness program for livestock veterinarians to include doctors in cities
The provincial government of Saskatchewan has expanded a loan forgiveness program for veterinarians and veterinary technologists in an effort to get more care for large animals. While the program was originally for veterinary professionals in small communities, it will now include those in larger urban centers who spend at least 400 hours a year caring for livestock in rural areas. They can receive forgiveness of 4,000 Canadian dollars a year for up to five years.

Commentary from Terry Sheehan: The latest in a growing number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces recognizing actions necessary to increase the attractiveness of veterinary care in rural communities. Two positives for this specific program are its inclusion of both veterinarians and veterinary technicians and that it is available to veterinary professionals in urban locations (i.e. Saskatoon).

> Read more of this article here.

Two veterinary college deans discuss the profession’s workforce challenges
Bizwomen spoke with the deans of the veterinary schools at North Carolina State University and the University of Minnesota about the workforce challenges facing the profession. Both Dr. Kate Meurs of the NCSU veterinary school and Dr. Laura Molgaard of the University of Minnesota are the first female deans of their respective colleges.

North Carolina State admits 100 veterinary students each year but has a goal to increase that to 120 over time. While veterinarian shortages are an issue, Meurs said certain strategies may help ease the problem, such as increasing focus on preventive and proactive care.

“There’s a lot of work being done with early predictors like genetic testing and biomarkers” that can help prevent disease, she said. She and Molgaard both noted regulations and certification boards limit the work technicians and nurses can do.

> Read more of this article here.

A veterinary social worker discusses how positions like hers can address the field’s mental health challenges
Kathleen Dunbar worked as a veterinary technician before going back to school to earn a master’s in social work. Now she works at a veterinary clinic in Nova Scotia, helping not just pet owners but veterinarians as well. She believes work like this could help address the mental health challenges in the field.

The Ontario Veterinary College found in research published in 2020 that more than 25% of Canadian veterinarians had experienced suicidal thoughts in the last year. The research also found higher rates of burnout, anxiety and depression than the general population.

“I think we’re going to really be starting to think outside the box a little bit, and I think that’s kind of what I feel I’ve done here by putting a social worker on staff,” said Mary-Clare McLaren, manager of the hospital where Dunbar works.

> Read more of this article here.

Veterinarian burnout increases with high demand for care and high worker turnover
High demand for pet care and turnover in the veterinary profession appear to be causing burnout for veterinary teams, with reports.

Dr. Peter Gaveras, who works at Silver Spring Animal Wellness Center in Milwaukee, believes the pandemic brought an increase in demand for care that’s combined with a changing workforce to cause challenges. Doctors now “are more tuned in to work-life balance, which is not 60 or 70 hours a week,” he said.

In response to mental health concerns in the profession, the American Animal Hospital Association is creating psychological health and safety standards for veterinary practices. “We hope we’ll see traction around that, because this doesn’t feel like it’s a challenge that’s decreasing,” said AAHA CEO Garth Jordan.

> Read more of this article here.

California governor could soon sign bill allowing veterinarians to recommend cannabis for pets
California veterinarians would be allowed to recommend cannabis products for pets under a bill awaiting signing by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The bill was recently approved by the state Senate after prior approval by the Assembly.

It would prevent disciplinary action by California’s Veterinary Medical Board against companion animal veterinarians who recommend cannabis for therapeutic or health supplement uses. It would also require the VMB to set guidelines for veterinarians to follow when recommending cannabis products.

“While the experience of many veterinarians and anecdotal reports from pet owners support a variety of therapeutic applications of cannabis for animal use, because of the lack of clear authorization under existing law, many pet owners are currently engaging without clear recommendations or guidance from their veterinarians,” according to a fact sheet on the bill.

> Read more of this article here.


Breanna Demaline, managing editor of the Veterinary Student Insider, is a fourth-year veterinary student at Michigan State University. Originally from Wauseon, Ohio, she is deeply passionate about veterinary practice ownership, culture, communication and team-building. She’s served on the executive board of the Veterinary Business Management Association for four years at both a local and national level.

Terry Sheehan, who offers commentary for Antelligence publications including the Veterinary Student Insider, is currently the CEO of Aniconsilia LLC, an animal health industry consulting firm he founded in 2009. Prior to the founding of Aniconsilia, Terry had a more than 30-year career in the animal health industry with a strong record of achievement in sales, marketing and commercial operations.
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