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School vs. experience in veterinary practice

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I work at a veterinary practice, and I'd like to move into management. How do I stack up against candidates with college degrees.

Q: I work at a veterinary practice, and I'd like to move into management. How do I stack up against candidates with college degrees?

"First off, a college education is a great thing, and anyone who can should get one," says Kyle Palmer, CVT, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and practice manager at Silver Creek Animal Clinic in Silverton, Ore. "That said, I'm not convinced that having a degree is critical." Palmer says there are a few factors to consider when weighing candidates.

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"Every practice owner has a vision about what the manager should do," he says. "Some use a manager as a partner, while other doctors focus on medicine, leaving management to the manager. Some things like basic accounting, human resources, and advertising can be applied to our industry regardless of where a person gained their knowledge. But other things like inventory, policies and procedures, client management, and staff managment favor a candidate who has worked in the veterinary field already."

Ask yourself how the practice owner expects the manager to operate. "I spend more time on the floor for a number of reasons," Palmer says. "However, an owner who plans to keep a manager in an office at all times might be happy with someone who has no veterinary experience."

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