Where Have All the Veterinarians Gone?

January 10, 2019
Elise M. Lacher, CPA

Elise M. Lacher, CPA, is co-founder of Strategic Veterinary Consulting in Seminole, Florida.

If your practice is located near a veterinary school, there is a gold mine of potential new employees waiting for you.

Have you tried to hire a new associate lately? If so, you may have found yourself walking smack into a brick wall. For many smaller practices, hiring a new associate—whether you’re looking for a new grad or a seasoned pro—seems almost impossible today. I like to joke that an alien space ship comes to Earth, loads them all up, and takes them off to another planet.

We can’t blame corporate ownership for the problem. Corporate and large practices are having just as difficult a time as the rest of us in finding suitable candidates. I may not have a magic wand that can solve the problem overnight, but I will tell you that being proactive is key. Placing an ad in JAVMA just won’t cut it anymore.

So, what can you do to improve your chances of finding an associate? Try looking to one of the best sources of new employees: veterinary schools.

Recruiting New Graduates

If your practice is located near a veterinary school, building a strong on-campus recruiting program is a must. Many schools employ career counselors who work with the students on job placement before graduation. Reach out and get to know these individuals and interact with them often. Inquire about employment programs offered by the school that you may participate in to meet potential candidates.

Be sure to get in touch early in the academic year; waiting until April or May likely won’t be beneficial. Even if you are not successful at first, interacting with faculty and students can give you a leg up in the future.

Promoting Your Practice

Smaller clinics can offer a plethora of benefits for brand new veterinarians, so make sure you can articulate those benefits when you speak to students. Discuss the kind of mentoring they will receive at your practice. The American Animal Hospital Association offers a free mentorship program that can be very helpful in onboarding a new associate successfully.

Smaller practices also offer a greater breadth of experiences. They don’t just refer—they get to do! In addition, the leadership in smaller hospitals is often more approachable than in larger practices.

Final Thoughts

Hiring today is challenging. For many practices it’s almost a full-time job. Giving your recruiting efforts ample time should increase your odds of success. Today’s students have more career options than ever, so you must work to get your practice on their radar.

Ms. Lacher, cofounder of Strategic Veterinary Consulting, has worked with veterinarians for many years. In addition to being a CPA, she is a recovering social worker. This perfect combination of training enables her to help veterinary business owners set goals and then develop action plans for success.