Lean into the veterinary profession


If you don't want to see your practice sold to a corporation, maybe you should own it. Practice ownership offers a powerful path for women to take leadership positions in their practices. (We're looking at you, associates, managers and technicians!)

Who will own the next generation of veterinary practices?

Consider this: The 2014 VPI-Veterinary Economics Financial Health Study asked male and female veterinarians if practice ownership was one of their goals.  

Why does it matter whether women want to own? Simply put, it's one clear path for women to become leaders in the veterinary profession. 

In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, encourages women to become leaders in their fields to have more power and influence in the industry in which they work. Owning a practice is one way to become a leader, to stay in the profession and to increase earnings and power throughout your career.

Many women may cut hours, leave work or not aim as high as owning because they want to have a family. Sandberg's advice: It's time for women to look to their partners to bear at least half the burden of raising the children and running the household.            



Leaning in is an important skill for veterinary teams to develop as well. After all, team members in veterinary hospitals are also mostly female. 

The 2016 Firstline Career Path Study shows about 97 percent of team members are female and 3 percent are male.

Take heart. For years, there was a finite advancement to the career ladder for team members. Now, many states allow nonveterinarians to own veterinary practices. (Find out the rules in your state here.) So "lean in" to your goals: aim as high as ownership. (Here's a look at what team members need to know before they own.)

A good first step? Sandberg suggests finding a mentor. But don't just look for a mentor: work hard and excel so a mentor notices you. She says grabbing opportunity is more important than ever. Jump in to help and the owner sees that and your job opportunity can change in an instant.

Don't discount your career too soon. Stay in and fight for your future and for the next generation of women.  

Tricia Eagle is practice manager and co-owner of Ashby Animal Clinic in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

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