Through a collaboration of VMG, Zoetis, and the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA), five veterinary professionals have received a scholarship to help them attain the highest level of certification a veterinary manager can achieve ---the Certified Veterinary Practice Management (CVPM) credential.
CVPM certification, which is offered through the VHMA, qualifies the knowledge and experience necessary to successfully manage the ever-changing business management of today's veterinary practices. CVPM candidates must document experience, knowledge and pass an examination.
The 2022 VMG member recipients of the CVPM scholarships are Crystal Hardison, Practice Manager, Animal Care East Veterinary Hospital, Winterville, NC; Audrey Laroche, Vice President, BLVD Vet LLC, Chicago, IL; Misha Hanewinckel, Operations Director, AmeriVet Partners Management, Inc., San Diego County; Stacy Werner, Practice Manager, West Coast Animal Hospital, San Diego, CA; and Amanda Wilson, Practice Manager, Aspen Veterinary Clinic, Flagstaff, AZ.
About the VMG Scholarship
The VMG Scholarship is awarded to managers employed by veterinary hospitals belonging to Veterinary Management Groups (VMG's) whose professionalism, expertise, and commitment will be enhanced with CVPM certification. The scholarship award includes the exam fee, a complimentary registration to participate in the VHMA's eleven-week Test Preparation Program, including a print copy of the CVPM Preparation Workbook, digital flashcards, access to two VHMA Empower U Self-Assessment examinations, $1,000 cash toward the purchase of publications on the CVPM recommended reading list, and a one-year complimentary VHMA membership.
Meet the scholarship recipients
Crystal Hardison, Practice Manager, Winterville Animal Care Veterinary Hospital, Winterville, NC
Crystal Hardison was studying nursing in college in 2008 when her passion for the animals she was assisting in the kennel started to exceed her interest in working with human patients. She quickly switched her focus to becoming a Certified Veterinary Technician while attending San Juan College. With that certification under her belt, Hardison transitioned to a veterinary technician role at Animal Care Veterinary Hospital.
“Management responsibilities were woven into our daily care of animals as we worked to balance efficiency and animal care,” she said. Hardison found that she enjoyed the management side of her position, which, as a veterinary technician, she balanced with surgeries and anesthesia assistance.
When the practice was sold in 2019, it opened up a clearer management pathway since her focus expanded to mentoring and supporting a team of people. Encore, the new owner of Animal Care Veterinary Hospital, encouraged Hardison to join VHMA and to pursue her CVPM. She became a VHMA member in 2021 and earned her CVPM one year later.
Currently, Hardison manages two locations Animal Care Veterinary Hospital and Winterville Animal Care.
She was excited to receive the VMG scholarship, which she will use as a reimbursement for the test fee and prep classes that she has already completed. She is quickly seeing the benefits of the certification she recently earned. “The CVPM gives you a deeper understanding of all the things you may not have previously thought about, such as the legal and ethical sides of a veterinary practice. I have already found that becoming a CVPM provides you with a solid foundation of knowledge to make the right decisions, as well as a community resource to reach out to,” she says.
Audrey Laroche, Vice President, BLVD Vet LLC, Chicago, IL
In 2012, Audrey Laroche was enjoying the fact-paced experience of veterinary emergency care, while working overnights in the ER department of Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center. She was a busy CVT (having received her certification from Blue Ridge Community College). Following a promotion to Veterinary Technician Supervisor, Laroche recalls “I got the bug that I wanted to be in management, to make sure treatments were properly administered, that all services were being appropriately documented. I was fascinated with the idea of ensuring quality control,” Laroche recalls.
Her timing couldn’t have been any better. One of her coworkers shared that he was starting his own practice and needed a manager to get it up and running, create protocols and bring fresh ideas into the practice. She accepted.
Boulevard Veterinary opened its doors in 2015. Laroche worked hard to ensure the practice was OSHA certified, AAHA accredited and ready for anything. BLVD Veterinary grew rapidly and opened two more practices in 2017 and 2020.
“With the opening of the third practice, Dr. Frederickson, the owner, suggested that I pursue my CVPM. To get my business college credits, he made it financially possible for me to get my master’s in management, which I earned from DePaul University in 2021.”
Laroche was recently promoted to Operations Director, and subsequently, Vice President. She believes pursuing the CVPM will give her and the three practices she oversees a significant leg up. “Getting the CVPM will provide us the voice of authority to know what we need to do in terms of protocols, compliance, and processes. Because we are hiring more practice managers as we grow, it will enable me to be a stronger resource for our other managers as they move toward getting their own CVPM certification.”
Misha Hanewinckel, Operations Director, AmeriVet Partners Management, San Diego County
It was Misha Hanewinckel’s love for puppy training that led her to where she is today. She had started her own puppy training company in 2014, after working for a friend’s business until she moved away.
When Hanewinckel moved to California and had her first child, she set her sights on new opportunities that kept her connected to her love of animals. A job opening as a veterinary hospital Client Service Representative at Academy Animal Hospital, located in Solana Beach, CA caught her attention and a new career opportunity followed. The year was 2007.
Quickly, her skills and attention to details opened her career path to new opportunities and she was promoted to office manager, then practice manager. In 2021, she was promoted again to area manager, a role which covered San Diego County.
Today, Hanewinckel serves as Operations Director for AmeriVet Partners Management, in San Diego County. In this role, she oversees and supports the activities of eight practice managers. She loves helping them hone their leadership skills.
Having earned her CVPM in 2022, Hanewinckel will use the scholarship to reimburse the costs associated with it. Her advice to those considering pursuing their CVPM is clear. “Pull the trigger and do it because the only thing holding you back is fear,” she says. “The CVPM gives you that level of accomplishment and proves your competencies; so just do it.”
Stacy Werner, Practice Manager, West Coast Animal Hospital, San Diego
Drawn to animals since childhood, Stacy Werner started working at a veterinary practice while in high school. After earning a degree as a Registered Veterinary Technician at Mesa College, she joined a 24-hour emergency and specialty hospital. "I had amazing mentors that taught me to do right by both the animals and the clients,” she recalls. During her 11-year tenure, Werner enjoyed taking on more management responsibilities and growing within the hospital. After a change to corporate ownership, she started thinking about new opportunities where she could focus on her management skills and career progression.
That opportunity came in 2018 when a colleague connected her with a practice owner looking for a manager. She visited the office of West Coast Animal Hospital and felt confident that it was the right environment she had been looking for. "We share the same vision of staff culture, client service, and advanced patient care."
In her role as Practice Manager, Werner began developing policies and procedures, a formal process for staff reviews and training designed to empower staff. The company’s growth was a testament to her hard work; the staff grew from 7 people to 48 and most of their hiring is word of mouth recommendations.
Werner was surprised and excited to learn she was a VMG Scholarship recipient, and she appreciates the opportunities that go along with being a certified CVPM. “I aspire to provide consulting services to other practice managers around the country. CVPM certification goes a long way in helping me pursue that,” she says.
Amanda Wilson, Practice Manager, Aspen Veterinary Clinic, Flagstaff Arizona
A horse owner since childhood, Amanda Wilson grew up competing in the sport of Three Day Eventing and attained the highest rating for horse care from the United States Pony Club Association while still in her teens.
While attending St. Mary’s College of Maryland, she met her husband, Peter, another rider. Their shared passion for horses led them to a foxhunting club in Arizona after graduation, where Wilson was put in charge of daily horse care and arranging for their veterinary needs. As her interest in the veterinary care of the horses grew, Wilson decided to take her experience to the next level by joining the team at Aspen Veterinary Clinic, a practice with a focus on both small animal and equine care.
Initially, Wilson was placed in charge of managing inventory and performing basic veterinary technician responsibilities. However, her interest in implementing processes and procedures caught the attention of Dr. Jesse Saul, the owner of the growing practice.
When the current practice manager announced plans to relocate, it opened up a new opportunity for Wilson. She was promoted to Practice Manager in 2020.
According to Wilson, the VMG Scholarship is coming at the perfect time since she had already decided to pursue CVPM certification. “Becoming a CVPM opens so many opportunities for growth. The resources made available to those taking the prep course are so invaluable and apply directly to my role at Aspen. I am thrilled and honored to receive the VMG Scholarship!" she says.
"The 2022 VMG Scholarship applicants are an impressive group, and the five scholarship winners and their practices should be extremely proud," said Christine Shupe, CAE, Executive Director, VHMA. "The winners have shown an exceptional commitment to continually improving the profession and their practices. Through this scholarship, they will earn a credential that recognizes their skills, ability, and experience and identifies them as leaders who will shape the future of veterinary practice management."
About The VHMA
The VHMA is a nationally recognized thought-leader and innovator in providing training, education, and resources to its more than 4,500 members while being a resource that the entire veterinary sector trusts for industry insights, research, and advocacy to assure performance at the highest levels. VHMA's core purpose is to advance and support veterinary practice management professionals by developing professional competence, supporting and encouraging standards through the industry's highest-level certification program, the Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM), and providing individuals with a network for professional connection and support.
About Veterinary Study Groups, Inc.
Veterinary Study Groups, Inc. provides a structure that enables practice owners to benefit from each other's wisdom, ideas, and experiences through Veterinary Management Groups. Each VMG is made up of 16-22 veterinarian owners and other practice leaders who meet biannually to share information, data, and management experiences. Mutual support and motivation help VMG members attain higher levels of success as practice administrators and leaders. More information about Veterinary Management Groups, including membership and contact details, may be found at www.veterinarystudygroups.com.
Zoetis is a global animal health company. Building on 60 years of experience, Zoetis delivers quality medicines and vaccines complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices, and a range of services. The company is working every day to understand better and address the real-world challenges of those who raise and care for animals in ways they find truly relevant. For more information, go to: http://www.zoetis.com
The VMG scholarship program is sponsored in part through an educational grant by Zoetis.