Delivering on your mission while building a strong business

dvm360dvm360 April 2024
Volume 55
Issue 4
Pages: 44

Everything begins with creating a healthy workplace

Talia Mdlungu/

Talia Mdlungu/

In veterinary medicine, our mission extends beyond the medical care we provide to animals, but we need to bring a broader vision of nurturing the human relationships on our team. We also need to build a strong business, so we will be there for our community in the future. As owner of a veterinary clinic, The Drake Center for Veterinary Medicine, and co-founder of GeniusVets, I've dedicated my career to delivering world-class veterinary care and guiding veterinary practices toward achieving sustainable growth and success.

I am a firm believer in the innate relationship between a strong culture and strong business operations. In my over 30 years as a veterinarian and practice owner, I've seen firsthand the impact a practice's overall culture can have not only on its financial success, but also on its capacity to deliver exceptional care for animals, and great service for their owners as well.

Why your practice’s mission and culture are so important

Veterinary medicine is a demanding profession

Veterinary medicine demands resilience, dedication, and often involves long hours and emotionally stressful situations. We must learn to set boundaries and care for ourselves while pursuing our purpose.

When a practice's mission is clear and its culture is supportive and engaging, it naturally attracts clients who share similar values and are loyal to the practice. This alignment between the practice and its clientele fosters a strong, trust-based relationship necessary for long-term success. A strong mission and culture translate into a competitive advantage, driving growth and profitability by differentiating the practice in a crowded market.

Building the foundation of great care and exceptional service

What sets great practices apart from merely good ones is the care and service provided to patients and their owners. The beauty of owning a small, independent business is that you can make quick decisions to best serve your practice's needs. I’m a firm believer in the value of progress, no matter how small. If you aren't making changes regularly that contribute to your mission or elevate your culture, your practice isn’t progressing.

Business decisions such as hiring, team development, and business processes must be made with your culture and mission in mind. Hire people who are a great fit for your practice culture, and train them for the specific skills they’ll need. An organized practice significantly reduces stress and enhances productivity, benefiting everyone, from your staff to the animals you serve.

Cultivating a healthy workplace and a committed team

While we view culture and mission as the backbone of a thriving veterinary practice, nothing functions without a healthy heart. The pulse of your practice is in its team. As leaders, it is our duty to assemble a group of individuals who are not only skilled and knowledgeable but also share a common vision and passion for veterinary medicine.

The importance of building a team that is aligned with your mission cannot be overstated. If your team does not actively work with and contribute to your practice's culture, are they delivering the value their role demands? Once you have the right people, embracing and maintaining a positive workplace culture is the next step. This requires intentional efforts to nurture and sustain an environment of collaboration, respect, and continuous improvement.

Creating a vibrant culture extends beyond the first phase of recruitment; it involves ongoing development, mentorship, and empowerment of your team members. Invest in professional development and create mentorship processes within your hospital. When practice owners invest in their teams, it will improve employee satisfaction and retention, lowering turnover costs, and ensuring high service consistency.

Let your mission lead your business

When you align your practice with a mission-driven approach and create a healthy workplace, you will set the stage for both business success and the mission of improving and supporting animal health. Lead by example and create environments where compassion, communication, and continuous improvement of animal care are encouraged and celebrated.

Through this commitment, we don't just run better veterinary practices; we make a lasting impact in our communities.

Michele Drake, DVM, CVA, is the owner of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care in Encinitas, California, a 10-doctor, 55-employee hospital that consistently outperforms competitors and industry averages because of Drake’s passion for embracing change and new technologies. She has served on committees and advisory boards for the University of California, American Animal Hospital Association, Novartis, and more. Drake completed her DVM at the University of Missouri and founded The Drake Center in 1992. She also serves as the chief veterinary officer for GeniusVets. Michele can be reached via email at

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