Producing this yearly report is a colossal group effort.
It starts when the cold snows are blowing in late January. It ends in the searing heat of early August when the final product lands in your mailbox. What is this eight-month, all-weather process? The creation of the annual State of the Industry Report from Veterinary Economics.
Here's how it all comes about: We start by brainstorming a list of all the hot issues we know are grabbing the attention of the profession. Sometimes we include questions that have been asked of us that we don't know the answer to. And finally we throw in what we're simply curious about ("Hmm, I wonder how well doctors comply with their own medical protocols?" The answer's "Caring for petsjust not your own").
Once we've whittled our brainstorms to a solid list of topics, we set about turning those topics into survey questions, complete with multiple-choice answers, so we end up with information that's quantifiable. Our corporate research department vets our questions, puts them in the right order, makes suggestions about appropriate wording, and then sends the final result out into the world via e-mail—and that's where you come in! If you've ever received a survey from Veterinary Economics and filled it out, here's a big thank-you. Without people like you, we wouldn't have any information to report.
Once the survey has generated a sufficient amount of responses to be statistically reliable, our research department tabulates, analyzes, and sends us the results, including any data breakdowns by market segment. For instance, we may want to compare men's and women's responses on a particular question, or practice owners' vs. associates', or equine vs. small animal practitioners'.
We pore through the results, noting anything that's striking, surprising, relevant—or boring. With the data in hand, we sit down to plan how to turn it into a magazine issue. The main questions we ask ourselves at this point are, "Why?" "What does it mean?" "How can this help our readers?" and "Who can we contact to explain this result further?"
Then off we go, our graphics team to create the pie charts, bar graphs, pictograms, and a complementary art plan, and our reporting and editing team to talk to the sources who can shed light on the subjects. The entire endeavor comes together as a colossal group effort, the result being an overall picture of veterinary practice at the current moment. And we're very proud of it by the time it's finished.
But even more important than our sense of accomplishment is our hope that all of this research and analysis provides you with information that helps you in practice, whether you're wondering what it would mean to hire a manager or thinking of ways to help unwanted pets. Because that's the point, after all. We love our pretty pictures and concise tips, but what really lights our bulbs is making a difference to veterinarians.
Kristi Reimer, Editor