Big benefits: Is it better to work for a corporation?
As veterinary medicine trends toward increased corporatization, let's get realare things really as bad as you think? Or even better than you imagined? We asked experts from all sides of the debate on whether it's worth it for team members to ascend the (corporate medicine) ladder.
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 email@example.com.)
Let's get to it …
"Corporate ownership forces private practices to step up their game, bring more structure to their businesses, learn to lead more effectively and reach for novel business models and decisions. Consolidation in general means that larger groups can trim expenses, lean down their administration costs and provide team members access to qualitative continuing education and other benefits. In general, consolidated practices can be more competitive in many, many ways.
"Also, work is what you make of it. Look, you can't find a shorter, faster route to success than veterinary medicine. If you're ambitious, intelligent and ready to strongly advocate for your practice, you'll soon find yourself on a short list to more money, promotion, better benefits, recognition and more job satisfaction. I think if you were to ask any corporate or private practice owner, both sides would tell you that they very much value the efforts of invested employees and are willing to go above and beyond to help them succeed at their jobs (and in their lives)."
-Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM
"Corporate practices likely have the funds to pay higher salaries and offer more continuing education benefits, which has benefits for the client twofold. When you are offering higher pay and benefits, you can choose to only accept the best of the best in the field, those most deserving of these benefits. So you now have high-quality employees. Then you offer them paid continuing education so they continue to expand their knowledge for their patients.
"The disadvantages of corporate practice may include a delay in seeing suggested change implemented, since there are multiple levels of management, and it may mean a change for all of their hospitals to ensure consistency, which is more difficult to do quickly. In some corporate practices, less of the management team is actually on the floor or in the office with the team every day, which may lead to a level of decreased intimacy and trust by the team."
-Ori Scislowicz, BS, LVT
"First, unless you are an owner, all employees work for some sort of a corporation. With larger group-owned practices team members may have some advantages, such as help with a new job if the employee has to move or moving up within the organization due to the larger number or diverse opportunities. There may also be advantages related to benefit packages (health insurance, retirement plans, etc.) due to the buying power of a larger organization as well as a larger portfolio of continuing education-medical and business-opportunities. If larger corporate practices have an advantage in this area, it's likely in being able to provide the required resources to ensure quality, ongoing staff training."
-David Bruyette, DVM, DACVIM
"Team members usually have better pay and benefits in corporate practice, but they do get worked pretty heavily. There's no real chance for ownership or major input into medical policy creation.
-Greg Nutt, DVM
"The No. 1 advantage of working in corporate practice is the benefits we can offer our associates, which don't compare to any private practice I know of. At Banfield, that's everything from health insurance to paid time off, medical leave and volunteer opportunities to covering costs of continuing education and licensing-whether for our doctors or our paraprofessionals. With a larger-scale business that has multiple hospitals, doctors also have far more resources to pull from, whether scheduling, pet data or medical resources."
-Kimberly-Ann Therrien, DVM, vice president of veterinary quality, Banfield Pet Hospital
"As an owner of an independent private practice, I cannot compete with the benefits package offerings from a corporate-owned practice to team members. I can offer what used to be competitive benefits, vacation time and so on, along with a family/neighborhood-style environment both from an ownership perspective and a clientele perspective, and I've been happy with the team I've been able to attract over the years."
-Ryan Gates, DVM
"Team members have the advantage of being able to climb the corporate ladder. I know many individuals who started as pet nurse assistants and have gone on to regional leadership. The other advantage is that corporate practices can often pay better than mom-and-pop practices, and the benefits are better. The disadvantages may be an inability to thrive in a high-volume environment, many of the hospitals don't have windows and practice leaders may feel limited by corporate policies."
-Sarah Wooten, DVM
"There are certain HR questions some of us can consult on in corporate practice, but corporate practices don't always have human resource team members, boots on the ground, at the practice. I don't know they can make team members behave. They've got policy manuals and job descriptions and rules about verbal and written warnings. That could be good for some practices without a background in human resources, hiring, firing and retention. But the corporate chains, by and large, aren't flying out a person who'll discipline your team member."
-Jeff Rothstein, DVM
Our panel includes:
Ori Scislowicz, BS, LVT, a Firstline board member and team leader at CVCA-Cardiac Care for Pets in Richmond, Virginia.
David Bruyette, DVM, DACVIM, Medical Director at the West Los Angeles Animal Hospital and CEO of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation and Consultation.
Greg Nutt, DVM, owner of Riverstone Animal Hospital in Canton, Georgia.
Kimberly-Ann Therrien, DVM, vice president of Veterinary Quality at Banfield Pet Hospital.
Ryan Gates, DVM, owner at Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
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.
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.
Kat Hodes, DVM, an associate veterinarian at KC Cat Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri.
Jessica Goodman Lee, CVPM, a practice management consultant for Pinnacle Integrated Veterinary Solutions.
Elizabeth Noyes, DVM, an associate veterinarian in Winchester, Virginia.