Veterinary Practice, Prestige and Profits


Call it what you want — prestige, respect, stature — having a good reputation can play a big part in building and running a successful veterinary practice.

Call it what you want — prestige, respect, stature — having a good reputation can play a big part in building and running a successful veterinary practice.

Prestige can bring profits, respect can drive revenue, and stature can create trust that in turn brings customer loyalty. This means that even if pet owners think they can get something faster, cheaper, or easier, they’ll still want you.

During his doctoring days, there was no doubt in my physician-father’s mind (or in mine) that his was a “prestigious” profession. And that worthy distinction includes veterinarians, according to a recent Harris Poll.

More than 2,200 U.S. adults were recently presented with a list of 30 professions and asked how much prestige each one had. The top honors went to medical doctors, with 90 percent of survey respondents saying that the job has “a great deal of prestige” (51 percent) or has “prestige” (39 percent).

Veterinarians ranked ninth, with 71 percent of respondents overall believing the profession has prestige; 24 percent said the profession has “a great deal of prestige” and 48 percent said it has “prestige.”

Veterinarians earned their highest level of prestige praise from those age 70 and up (84 percent); the least came from Generation Xers (65 percent).

Rounding out the top 10 most prestigious jobs were scientist (83 percent), firefighter (80 percent), military officer (78 percent), engineer (76 percent), nurse (76 percent), architect (72 percent), emergency medical technician (72 percent), police officer (67 percent), teacher (65 percent) and entrepreneur (65 percent). Among the top 10 rated prestige professions, four have to do with health care.

Occupations with the least amount of prestige were public relations consultant (31 percent), real estate broker/agent (32 percent), video game developer/designer (37 percent), stockbroker (39 percent) and politician (40 percent). Only 9 percent of those polled said the veterinary profession was “not at all prestigious.”

When survey respondents were asked whether they would want their child to pursue various professions, the veterinary profession fared quite well. Eighty-six percent of those polled said they would suggest that their child consider becoming a veterinarian. The professions parents would most like to see their children in were medical doctor (90 percent) and engineer (89 percent), followed closely by scientist and nurse (both at 88 percent).

Veterinarians should gain some satisfaction that their profession is at the top of the prestige mountain for a couple of reasons. First, because of their hard work and dedication they richly deserve the recognition. Second, with suicide a growing concern in the profession, the results should help build self-confidence.

To build trust and influence as a healer, my father believed one must:

  • Look like a doctor: There was no question, whether he was in the hospital or at the office dad was going to be in a suit and tie. “Always look like a professional,” was his advice. Surveys confirm that health professionals should dress on formal side — and definitely not in casual wear.
  • Act like a doctor: Respect others’ time; keep your word; address patients/clients by name; look people in the eye; listen attentively; project calm, compassion and confidence; and be clinically conversant. All are hallmarks of superior healers. And all are within reach for a disciplined and determined veterinarian.
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