Veterinary Medicine and the pet industry have experienced exponential growth over the last decade and all indicators point to continued growth. This $50 billion industry offers tremendous career opportunities for enthusiastic, pet minded, business oriented individuals.
As the demand for pet care has increased, so has the need for more advanced equipment, processes and systems. Veterinarians have recognized that the professional management of their practices has become a critical priority to remain competitive and to meet the requirements of today’s consumer savvy clients. This has created new jobs that provide the opportunity for development and personal satisfaction in a rewarding environment.
From developing managers to new graduates to experienced leaders with advanced degrees, the veterinary medical industry offers challenging opportunities that encourage innovation, teamwork and dedication.
Opportunities Inside the Hospital Setting
Veterinary hospital managers are involved in many different aspects and levels of responsibility in regards to driving the performance of a veterinary hospital. Ultimately, a hospital manager at any level is obliged to create an environment where a team is able to deliver quality, efficient health care to animals. The commitment to bearing a high level of responsibility in preserving the human-animal bond can result in a highly challenging and rewarding career. Veterinary hospitals vary greatly in size and scope of practice, from small one-doctor general practices to large practices which house multiple specialty practices and 24-hour emergency services. Veterinary management positions also vary greatly in scope and area of responsibility. A Hospital Administrator may be charged with the responsibility of overseeing all human resource, financial, operational, and business development activities. In large practices, many different levels of specialized managers may support a Hospital Administrator. Below are some of the positions typically available in veterinary practice management:
• Hospital Administrator
• Practice Manager
• Office Manager
• Human Resources Manager
• Chief Financial Officer
• Patient Care Manager
• Facility Manager
• Client Care Manager
• Marketing Manager
• Regional or District Manager
• Operations Manager
Veterinary hospital managers in any position organize and implement protocols in conjunction with practice values in order to meet the company goals. All of these positions are critical to the success of the hospital and the delivery of quality and compassionate health care to pets and their people.
Opportunities Outside the Hospital Setting
Veterinary practices can often benefit from the experience and expertise provided by an objective outside opinion. Experienced veterinary managers and other professionals with business expertise frequently serve as consultants to practices by providing detailed evaluation of practice operations along with affirmations or solutions for improving the practice. Consultants also have many opportunities to educate practice owners and staff through educational forums and publications.
Below are some areas of expertise that practice management consultants may specialize in:
• General and Specialty Practice Management
• Human Resource Management
• Education and Training
• Speaking and Writing
• Practice Valuations
• Succession and Strategic Planning
• Accounting and Tax Services
• Financial Planning
• Marketing and Media
• Legal and Regulatory Issues
• Architectural Design
Opportunities for veterinary management professionals also exist within the corporate arena with companies that provide products and services to veterinary practices. An experienced and educated veterinary management professional can provide a keen understanding of the profession, and add expertise and insight to the corporation by partnering with their customers and providing value-added services to their key accounts.
Sources for Employment/Job Listings:
1. Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA)
2. State Veterinary Medical Associations
3. Veterinary Management Recruiter Sites
4. Local Veterinary Manager Groups
5. Veterinary Management Resource Material (trade magazines and journals)
6. General Employment Web sites
Sources for Current Compensation and Benefit Information:
1. VHMA Compensation and Benefits Report
2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
3. Local Veterinary Manager Groups
4. National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI)
One of the most beneficial opportunities for personal and professional growth as a veterinary management professional is investing oneself in membership in your professional association; these resources allow tremendous benefits that promote networking, continuing education, and awareness of current trends.
Maintaining membership in professional associations and maintaining like-minded business contacts will help strengthen your ability to strategically and effectively lead your team and enhance your career.
The demand for exceptional veterinary care is ever increasing and professional management is becoming more and more prevalent. There are many educational resources for veterinary managers. Whether you are looking for a formal training program or continuing education for the most up-to-date information, you will find many options to explore. A list of veterinary management education sources is available on the VHMA Web site under Links of Interest. There are many associations, commissions, and organizations to help you. In addition to educational programs, there are veterinary management books, trade magazines, and benchmarking tools available.
For those managers new to the veterinary profession, the VHMA also offers a Mentor Program. The VHMA Mentor Program offers one-on-one assistance for support, guidance, and career advice on an as-needed basis.
For experienced veterinary managers, the VHMA offers a certification program. The Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM) certification qualifies managers who have met predetermined standards for knowledge/skills/competencies and who are committed to ongoing recertification to ensure maintenance or improved competencies.