Q&A: What's fair for a relief vet?

October 2, 2018
Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, CVA
Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, CVA

Dr. Felsted is a CPA as well as a veterinarian and has spent the last 15 years working as a financial and operational consultant to veterinary practices and the animal health industry. She also spent three years with the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues as CEO. She has written an extensive number of articles for a wide range of veterinary publications and speaks regularly at national and international veterinary meetings. She is the current treasurer of VetPartners, a member of the Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board, a member of the CVPM board of directors and the current treasurer of the CATalyst Council. In 2011, she was awarded the Western Veterinary Conference Practice Management Continuing Educator of the Year and in 2014, the VetPartners Distinguished Life Member Award.Dr. Felsted enjoys exotic international travel, and when the dvm360 team last heard from her, she was headed to the Galapagos.

Ask around and do some research, says Dr. Karen Felsted to one brand-new relief veterinarian on the scene.

Pricing is tough, and asking around is a good bet.Q. How do I know what to charge as a new relief veterinarian in the area?

A. As I'm sure you know, relief veterinarian rates vary around the country, so getting an idea of your market is important. Do you know anyone in a practice who hires relief veterinarians? They might be able to help you. Have you attended any veterinary meetings in town? That would also be a good way to meet some more doctors and get some info. You need to go where the vets go-either electronically or in person. Could you post on VIN, if you have access to it?

In the beginning, you'll need to be in the range of what others charge. Once people know you and see that you can bring exceptional value, you should be able to charge more, especially if there's big demand for relief doctors. Finding the right amount may take a bit of trial and error to find the highest amount you can charge and still get as much work as you want.

Give some thought as well to how you communicate your skill set when you're talking about relief work to potential practices or in any marketing you do. You want to be able to emphasize a couple of key points about what you bring to the table that are different from everyone else and worth the extra money you want to charge.

Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, CVA, works as a financial and operational consultant to veterinary practices and the animal health industry with her PantheraT Veterinary Management Consulting. She has written an extensive number of articles for a wide range of veterinary publications and speaks regularly at national and international veterinary meetings.