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Dr. Alli Reid knew she wanted to open a veterinary practice, but she had no plans to open one during a pandemic.
Dr. Alli Reid, who graduated from veterinary degree in 2018, founded Muckalee Equine & Agri-Health Services mobile veterinary clinic in De Sota, Georgia in April. (Courtesy Dr. Reid)
In April, Dr. Reid Muckalee Equine & Agri-Health Services, a mobile veterinary clinic in De Sota, Georgia.
“There aren’t many vets in my area who do large animal mobile exercises,” she said. “I wanted to fill this gap.”
Dr. However, Reid, who graduated from the University of Georgia Veterinary College in 2018, is not your typical practice owner.
According to AVMA survey data from 2019, the average age of a practice owner varies by specialty, but the average age of pet exclusive practice owners is 62 and food exclusive practice owners 61 years on average.
Dr. Reid isn’t too worried about her age, however. In fact, she said, two years outside of veterinary medicine makes her more excited and optimistic about the future of veterinary medicine.
She is not alone in this train of thought. Dr. Rob Trimble, director of the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy, said the recent graduates bring a unique perspective and innovative ideas to a changing industry.
Some young veterinarians view ownership as a risky move given the high educational debt and the potential time invested in owning a business, but JAVMA News spoke to veterinarians who said ownership is still the best route to financial security and fulfillment.
age is only a number
“Your perspective as a junior veterinarian or recent graduate is valuable and the value extends beyond your ability to diagnose and treat animals,” said Dr. Trimble.
VEA focuses on innovation in animal health care by working with veterinary colleges and providing students with leadership and business opportunities such as internships.
Dr. Trimble suggests that the first step in entrepreneurship is to challenge the tension in an industry.
“When you are in tension anywhere, the knowledge is that there is no alignment. This tension is great information and feedback. When you experience that, there is an opportunity, ”he said. “There is no shortage of tension in the veterinary profession.”
Some advice Dr. Reid, as a graduate and new owner, has found it helpful to follow your dreams but never get over your head.
“Start small,” she said. “The start-up costs for a mobile veterinary practice are far lower than for building or buying a stationary company. If you have the resources to run a mobile clinic, this is a low risk, high reward option. “
I think having a practice will keep you in this profession for your entire life. I say this after living it. There is nothing quite like being your own boss.
Dr. Mark Helfat, founder of Veterinary Practice Transitions
There are several potential resources for potential owners, but Dr. Mark Helfat, the owner of Larchmont Animal Hospital in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, launched Veterinary Practice Transitions specifically to help young vets buy practices and sell senior vets.
“I think having a practice will keep you in the profession for life,” said Dr. Helfat, a former CEO of AVMA. “I say that after I’ve lived it. There is nothing quite like being your own boss. “
VPT is a non-profit online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers.
Ownership is financially beneficial, said Dr. Peter Weinstein, Chairman of the AVMA Veterinary Economic Strategy Committee and consultant for veterinary practices.
“Even in the face of corporatization, independent ownership is usually the way to go, especially for people looking to take leadership roles,” he said.
Buy in pandemic times
Despite the potential benefits associated with ownership of the practice, the current economic situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic is worrying.
Some students at a closing event at the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy in Omaha, Nebraska (courtesy of the VEA)
While Dr. Weinstein believes ownership is the best way for veterinarians to go, so he suggests waiting for the foundation to resettle.
“It’s like living on a fault line and everything is shaking,” he said. “Once things settle down, there is a great opportunity for young doctors to develop new business models and help pet owners with a new approach that emerges from the current disruptive world we live in.”
Dr. Weinstein plans various business changes, such as: B. no boarding or care services, no reception areas, more check-ins at the roadside, more options for telemedicine and an increase in home call services.
He suggests that potential practice owners look for a practice to buy, but hold back until the economy recovers.
“Buyers should be conservative now, but they shouldn’t be turned off,” said Dr. Tartar. “Sellers must do everything possible to keep their practice alive, vibrant, and successful, and not just survive in the face of major infections and financial challenges.”
Dr. Reid agrees that the job will change. It provides a lot more roadside services and mobile veterinary clinics.
“There will be increased demand for mobile vets – mixed, large, and domestic animals,” she said. She believes that people value mobile services.
Matthew J. Salois, PhD, director of AVMA Veterinary Economics Division, said pets are still an important part of people’s lives even during a pandemic.
“That won’t change,” he said. “Indeed, there is a deluge of people adopting and caring for pets.”
Dr. Reid agreed that veterinary care is still needed, especially for food producers.
“There is a need for veterinary care. They cannot stop what they are doing and they need to keep providing quality products to the grocery chain, ”said Dr. Reid. “I wanted to be someone they could reach and rely on in this crisis they were struggling through.”