Veterinarian As Practice Manager

Veterinarians find themselves in a unique position among healthcare providers.

Stephanie’s recent surgery and absence led us to an interesting and challenging decision-making process a few months ago.

Most of us manage our own practices day-to-day.

Physicians, on the other hand, typically work for huge corporations or, if they own their own practices, have a practice manager or at least an office manager.

On the other hand, your pet’s doctor is more likely to be a do-it-all person who hires, fires, sets policy, pays bills, makes bank deposits as well as training his staff and practicing veterinary medicine.

A notable exception would be large corporate practices. They include Veterinary Clinics of America (VCA) and National Veterinary Associates. In these large practices (often ten or more doctors) many decisions are corporate, with some local autonomy.

Another type of veterinary practice that has a manager and/or management team is the large multi-doctor practice. In practices of five or more doctors a manager may be hired, or one of the veterinarians may devote, for example, 40% of his time to management and 60% to practicing. He would make that choice if he enjoyed practice but also was emotionally rewarded by managing statistics and people.

When Stephanie’s illness and impending surgery arose, we knew she would be out for a minimum of six weeks. With a staff of only three full-time and two part-time employees, we faced a difficult choice: work longer hours for a month and a half, or hire and train a new employee.

The decision was made easier by the fact that we are family. To lose Stephanie would not only mean losing a valuable, trained, experienced, likeable and friendly member of our team, but it would mean a permanent loss of a member of our family, too.

Although we knew it would be a sacrifice for all of us, ultimately our verdict was based on what was best for our family member in need.

The decision was made with full input of both of our full-time employees, and we all agreed, it was the only choice we could possibly make.

So, we buckled down and did what we had to do. Most of the increased load was on the lay staff, and they performed admirably.

I am so very proud of the team assembled at Animal General Hospital. They are the best folks one could possibly ask for.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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