Better business: Is nonveterinary corporate ownership the answer?
Would veterinary clinics do betterby patients, and by the team members who staff themif they were run like businesses, by businesspeople?
The dvm360.com editors analyzed data, mined our shared market knowledge and had many long (like really, really LONG) meetings about how we'd address the issue of corporate medicine, especially in light of recent events.
In the end, we decided it was best to ask our "brain trust" for their real-life experiences and perspectives. We created a panel made up of regular contributors, new faces and industry veterans, who together create a spectrum of voices that represent the many angles of this issue. We wondered what people on all sides of the debate would label as advantages (or disadvantages). So we asked our panel to discuss it all-here are their opinions. (P.S. Got a beef with any of this? Tell us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
We asked: What are your feelings on non-veterinary corporate ownership? Is it a bad thing that associates aren't buying as many practices as they used to?
"Fewer veterinarian practice owners shortchanges everyone: the market loses diversity, veterinary professionals miss out on a chance at higher income, qualified team members have fewer avenues to advance their careers and knowledge, pet owners and pets have fewer pet healthcare options, and the profession itself risks brain-drain as more brighter students aim their career paths away from vet medicine towards higher paying jobs with more room for advancement."
-Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM
"I am against it, in general, as I feel it will lead to business people/hedge funds killing the goose to get the golden egg."
-Greg Nutt, DVM
"I suppose a non-veterinarian owner could be successful if they were to let veterinarians just be veterinarians and not try to change who we are."
-Elizabeth Noyes, DVM, MS, PhD
"There's a whole lot of nuance within the veterinary profession that a non-veterinarian just doesn't understand. Perhaps the profession would do better with more clinics being run as successful businesses, but I wonder if doing so at the hands of a nonveterinary ownership group will forfeit the personal touch that many within the animal-owning, practice-building public seem to want.
"Practice ownership can solve a huge part of the solution to the graduate debt problem. I understand the reasons why many of today's young associates don't want to get into ownership (added responsibilities and time translate to diminished work-life balance, more debt-though I submit if a profitable practice is sought out for purchase, it will pay for itself with relative little effort), but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, in my estimation."
-Ryan Gates, DVM
Our panel includes:
Greg Nutt, DVM, owner of Riverstone Animal Hospital in Canton, Georgia.
Elizabeth Noyes, DVM, an associate veterinarian in Winchester, Virginia.
Ryan Gates, DVM, owner at Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
Garret Pachtinger, VMD, DACVECC, an emergency and critical care clinician at Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in Levittown, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is also the chief operating officer for VetGirl.
David Bruyette, DVM, DACVIM, Medical Director at the West Los Angeles Animal Hospital and CEO of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation and Consultation.
Kimberly-Ann Therrien, DVM, vice president of Veterinary Quality at Banfield Pet Hospital.
Sarah Wooten, DVM, an associate at Sheep's Draw Animal Hospital in Greeley, Colorado. She contributes frequently to dvm360.com and also speaks at the CVC veterinary conferences.
Jeff Rothstein, DVM, MBA
, president of the Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan.
Jessica Goodman Lee, CVPM, a practice management consultant for Pinnacle Integrated Veterinary Solutions.
Kat Hodes, DVM, an associate veterinarian at KC Cat Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri.
Ori Scislowicz, BS, LVT, a Firstline board member and team leader at CVCA-Cardiac Care for Pets in Richmond, Virginia.