Letter to dvm360: 'Concern' with overtime wages not warranted


Veterinary practice managers are fundamental, and so is their compensation.

On Dec. 1, 2016, The Department of Labor's Final Rule updating overtime regulations becomes effective. Most employees, including veterinary practice managers, who are paid less than $913 a week will be entitled to recieve overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a single week. A recent dvm360 article quoted Rep. Kurt Schrader, DVM (D-Oregon), on the Final Rule. He said, "My reaction to this is similar to that of most practice owners: I'm very concerned."

The Veterinary Managers Association (VHMA) is worried too-- worried that comments like Schrader's minimize how vital practice managers are to a practice's success. 

VHMA represents more than 2,500 veterinary practice managers in North America and provides education, research, networking and certification to support their commitment to professional excellence. 

In a veterinary practice, practice managers occupy key positions and are vital to the office's success. Practice managers plan and direct human resources, recruit and hire staff, provide guidance and direction to employees, ensure compliance with laws, regulations and standards, establish protocols, policies and procedures, maintain financial accounts, oversee banking, analyze financial reports and much more. And, according to VHMA's 2015 Compensation and Benefits Survey, managers carry out these responsibilites working, on average, 37.7 hours per week and earning an average annual salary of $47, 714. 

Given the many and varied responsibilites of practice managers, effective managers can contribute to the gross income and the net profits of the practice. By hiring a manager, owners and/or veterinarians can free themselves up to generate additional practice income. Practice managers also influence the quality of patient care and client service because they are responsible for the management and training of the support team. 

The Final Rule will undoubtedly impose new requirements on practice owners, especially those whose practice managers work more than 40 hours per week and earn less than $913 during a 40-hour week. However, there are also a significant number of practice managers who earn above the threshold salary and work 40 hours per week and therefore will not be impacted by the Final Rule. 

As many owners and veterinarians will attest, practice managers are assets to their practices. They deserve to be recognized for their contributions to the success of the business and paid a living wage for their efforts. While VHMA understands that in our current economic climate all business owners are concerned about their bottom line, practice managers make good business sense and help practices thrive. It is shortsighted to be "concerned" about the impact of overtime pay at the expense of the employees whose participation and contributions are so vital to the success of the practice. 

Christine Shupe, CAE, executive director, Veterinary Hospital Managers Association 

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