At one point, people truly believed the world was flat. We all know this core belief was dramatically disrupted. Countless industries experience disruptive business model changes – the music industry transformed from vinyl disks to streaming music; newspapers from print to being available free online; travel from booking through travel agencies to a plethora of instant-booking, travel-related websites. Is disruptive change coming to veterinary medicine?
Basic veterinary practice business models have changed little in decades. The profession's educational process approximates eight years to receive the DVM degree. Most practices are open traditional business hours, five or six days a week. The profession is fragmented, with large capital investments in buildings and equipment duplicated in veterinary facilities in very close proximity to one another. Animal health suppliers experiencing extreme consolidation. Is disruptive change coming to veterinary medicine?
Can we implement strategies in private practice to ensure relevancy? If the profession fails to remain relevant, others will step into the vacuum. Opportunity abounds in animal health, yet others challenge the profession in numerous areas. Our private practice pharmacies, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, and equine dentistry are but a few examples, areas of opportunity the profession should own. After all, we're the animal experts! Seize the opportunity, get creative, and devise business models preserving these activities to the profession's benefit.
Private practices must generate profit adequate to compensate recent graduates for escalating costs of education and student loan debt. Good medicine is good business, and good business financially supports good medicine. Practice owners have responsibility to manage practices with a high degree of business acumen. The profession's profitability must increase to facilitate the management of disruptive change.
Personally commit to the profession. Approach your practice interests passionately. Always strive for excellence. We're highly trained, kind, caring, compassionate professionals. In the early stages of our careers, we hone our medical and surgical skills, becoming highly skilled clinicians. As we gain experience, we add mentoring and business management skills to our repertoires. Surround yourself with teams of highly committed professionals and devise systems to delegate tasks while maintaining responsibility.
The Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association continually positions the profession to embrace change. Numerous program offerings chart the course for the profession's future in Wisconsin. We all benefit from a tradition of visionary leadership – Food Armor®, the cutting edge platform leading the industry in veterinary-directed food safety; the OSHA alliance providing WVMA members with information and guidance to achieve OSHA compliance; the recently announced partnership with the AVMA to bring the highly regarded Practice Profitability Workshop to the state level in March of 2017, giving WVMA members access to cutting edge business management education.
We know the world is not flat; how do we know that disruptive change is not going to affect veterinary medicine? Leverage your WVMA membership to position yourself and your practice to embrace the future!
Over the past several years, the WVMA has become acutely aware of the increasing mental health and substance abuse stresses that our professionals are experiencing. Survey studies by mental health experts have quantified the challenges facing some of our colleagues. Articles in our press have made us aware of this issue. The stresses of veterinary school and practice can combine to create depression, anxiety, and even suicide for some of our colleagues.
In a cooperative effort to provide additional resources for our profession, the WVMA worked with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and Governor Walker’s office to get authorization for the creation of a Professional Assistance Program for Veterinarians and CVTs included in the 2017-19 state biennial budget bill. The program is funded with existing license fees and will be a much-needed resource for Wisconsin veterinary professionals who are struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. This is a major victory for veterinarians in Wisconsin. The WVMA will be working with DATCP as this program is developed. We extend our thanks to DATCP and the Governor’s Office for their recognition of this need for our profession and the commitment to creating this professional assistance program.