Back to the veterinary manager's future


The VHMA predicts three ways the top trends in veterinary medicine will influence the the evolving role of practice manager.

"You'll have to forgive the crudeness of this model. I didn't have time to paint it or build it to scale."--Dr. Emmett Brown, Back to the Future (photo courtesy of Scott! Rapidly evolving technology, a growing number of corporate acquisitions of independent practices and a drop in the number of clients are transforming the veterinary industry. These changes may also redefine the role of the veterinary manager in the years ahead. Understanding how this may influence the future is key to embracing change.

While preparing the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) strategic plan, we surveyed industry leaders to gain insight into industry trends that influence the roles managers will play. Three topics dominated the discussions.

"Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?"-Marty McFly

1. As the growth in corporate practices continues, managers can anticipate that their roles may become more specialized.

Historically, the veterinary industry has been comprised of general veterinary practices, but more and more of these independent practices have been acquired by corporations. Large corporate-owned practices may be more likely to hire managers with specific expertise related to job function for organizational efficiency.

"If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."-Marty McFly

2. Certification will become increasingly important to employers because it speaks to an employee's willingness to work hard.

With the introduction of new technology and other practice enhancements, managers will be expected to master increasingly complex information and demonstrate proficiency in management issues such as technology, law, finance, accounting and human resources.

Managers with impressive experience and exceptional skills may be an asset, but those who are also motivated and enthusiastically and proactively adapt to new challenges will be vital to practice success.

Certified managers and those who've obtained a professional credential show that they're driven to excel professionally and value education. It's the commitment to professional growth and development that will equip managers to respond effectively to changes in the industry.

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."-Dr. Emmett Brown

3. There will be an increasing call for managers to lead strategic planning for the practice.

In an environment of rapid change, practice managers who can effectively lead the strategic planning process and incorporate strategic thinking into their repertoire of skills will be a valuable resource to their organizations. Businesses that are prepared to adjust strategy in response to environmental changes will be better positioned to survive and thrive.

Before you make like a tree and get out of here …

It's worth noting that VHMA discussion participants agree that the changes on the horizon will modify the veterinary manager's role. It's difficult to define precisely what that role will look like. Managers need to watch developments in the veterinary world to adapt to and flourish in a new reality.  

And, although the future responsibilities of the practice manager are currently undefined, respondents agreed that leaders who demonstrate interpersonal and interoffice skills will always be in demand to maintain and care for clients and the clinic team.

If our calculations are correct, when this profession hits 88 miles an hour, you're going to see some serious stuff!

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