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How well are veterinary students prepared to make business decisions?
Veterinary Economics took a special look into the non-clinical content in veterinary curriculums.
“Veterinary students just aren't prepared for the ‘real world.' Students and new graduates don't know how to manage their debt or practice finances. And it's the fault of veterinary schools. They aren't teaching students to manage debt or practice medicine in the real world.”
The editors at dvm360 and its sister publication Veterinary Economics have heard these remarks from veterinary experts for years. So we thought we'd do the legwork and see if it's true. We surveyed U.S. veterinary schools to find out what they offer-required or optional-and whether students take advantage of this nonclinical content. Below you'll find a recap of some of the more innovative things veterinary schools are doing to provide a rock-solid business foundation for students to use in the “real world.” To read the full results of the survey, click here.
Colorado State University
When surveyed, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine was in the process of hiring a financial educator dedicated to help veterinary students improve their personal finance acumen and to decrease their debt. In August 2014, the college also hired Pamela O'Grady, career services manager, to help students with employment. The college also offers an optional 18-credit business certificate program and a combined MBA/DVM program, which accepts five students annually.
The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University works with American Student Assistance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to financial literacy for students, to bring a finance professional to campus twice each academic year. The school also offers one-on-one sessions to each of its fourth-year students to review their loan portfolio and discuss repayment options and strategies. Just prior to graduation, there is a one-week mandatory session that fourth-year students take called “Take Charge of Your Professional Life.”
University of Florida
The University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine offers an optional business certificate that includes courses on entrepreneurship for veterinarians, a veterinary practice clerkship elective, special projects in veterinary business, and an equine-practice-based clerkship.
University of Georgia
Students at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine have the opportunity in their fourth year to complete a rotation in a veterinary practice management externship program. A partnership between the college and the university's small business development center (SBDC), overseen by Jeff Sanford, SBDC's director of entrepreneurial studies, pairs students with a local practice to work in the areas of finance, budgeting, marketing, personnel management, workflow evaluation cost-benefit analysis. The students prepare a comprehensive report for the practice owners on the health of the business.
University of Minnesota
David Lee, DVM, MBA, of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine has created a budget simulator for students to use to prepare for postgraduation debt repayment and realistic budgeting. Students input factors such as salary, student debt, credit card debt and personal savings and then receive a summary and analysis of their financial situation. The simulator is found at www.finsim.umn.edu. Students also meet with the Office of Student Finance at the beginning and end of their time in the program.
University of Missouri
At the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, veterinary personal finance expert Fritz Wood, CFP, gives a four-hour lecture on personal and practice financial health. A university financial aid officer is assigned to the veterinary college and is on site two days a week for students to directly address loan or financial aid questions. This officer provides an exit strategy and planning session addressing how to schedule loan repayment and forgiveness opportunities.