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Advocacy for Independently Owned Veterinary Practices

Dr. Melanie Bowden’s (DVM), Ted Talk titled and linked here, “What being a veterinarian really takes” puts into perspective what many veterinarians go through on a daily basis, it shows the effort it takes to take care of your loved pets. Dr. Melanie Bowden points to what I will call the “Advocacy Gap”, the gap between what Veterinary Clients understand and What Veterinary Practices understand about the veterinary profession.

Dr. Bowden opens up her Ted Talk with, “And it's been my experience that most people don't personally know a veterinarian in their own life. They may have one that they go to for services, but they don't have one as a friend or a family member or something like that. As such, I found that very few people can relate to what I do for a profession and really understand me as a person”. This Gap was my personal experience before becoming an advocate for the veterinary community.

Looking back prior to 2015, when I was only a client of a veterinary practice - I took my pets to my veterinary practice, (at the time two schnauzers - Eddie and Auggie, who have passed, and now two Doodles - Rudy and Winne) and in my mind everything at the veterinary practice was great, my dogs got the exams they needed, I trusted my veterinarian’s recommendations, and was happy to get the preventative products and services for my dogs. And that’s where my view of veterinary medicine/practice ownership stopped. I had no clue what was going on behind the scenes.

My viewpoint for most things was my viewpoint, of a business owner, running a retail chain, managing the team, mingling with the clients, managing the numbers, and forecasting the future. Doesn’t every business owner do that? Well, my vision was narrow at that time, focused on my business. Success takes focus, yet that focus can lead to these “gaps” in understanding other professions and other businesses.

My Gap was the failure to see that the veterinarian who took care of my animals wasn't educated in financial numbers, in managing a team, in “mingling with clients”. How could a veterinarian be educated in these areas, when becoming a veterinarian means you have to learn about subjects that have nothing to do with running a business? To become a veterinarian you have to spend at least 8 years in school, and the minute you get your DVM Credentials, you are thrust into veterinary practice and are expected to apply all of these skills. Not to mention having to know multiple species - from food animals to racing horses to your beloved dog/cat even the pocket pet (the little furry caged ones), oh yeah, raptors, reptiles, and the list goes on. And a lot of Veterinarians become business owners by default. There is a joke about MDs and DVMs, you can imagine it has something to do with MD’s only having to work on one species!

I got into being a business owner because of my love of numbers and love of people. My passion is business and culture building, which colored my view of all “business owners”. It’s obvious I got it wrong about the passion of veterinary business owners. Most become Veterinarians for the love of animals, for the love of people, knowing animals make people happy. The GAP is about what was going on behind the exam room and the waiting room.

This Gap even showed up in our business when at the offices of DVM Office, we had someone show up asking us to renew their license, thinking it was the “DMV Office”. I laugh at this, but at a fundraiser dinner last year that we sponsored (a non-veterinary event), when our DVM Office logo popped up, someone said to me, “I didn’t know you licensed cars”. These real-life experiences sum up Dr. Melanie Bowden’s point of “few people relating” to her profession. Hell, even Google Docs wants to auto-correct DVM to DMV…

Knowing this Gap, we need to bridge the Gap, and Bridging Gaps is what we love to do at DVM Office. DVM Office set out to bridge the Accounting and Bookkeeping gap, but it can help bridge the advocacy gap for Veterinarians. By diving into the numbers of a Veterinary Practice and delivering accurate data in a format a veterinarian can understand, we can help the Veterinarian free up bandwidth in their practice. This free bandwidth is more than gaining back time, it can bring a better mindset about their financial future, which frees up one to become proactive about the practice around them, to even think “beyond the practice”, to think about the community around them, and begin to advocate for themselves.

Partnering with DVM Office is more than just numbers, it is also a collaborative effort, and we can’t expect DVM’s to do all the advocating on their own. We are proud to be a DVM Advocate at the DVM Office! So let’s all do our part to advocate for veterinary practices and professionals. Let’s all learn more about each other, ask better questions, and show care and kindness.

I have to share my pups since I talked about them!

Rudy and Winnie

Auggie and Eddie


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