Veterinary economics is an interesting beast. Most vet students find accounting, business statistics, and strategic planning to be very boring in comparison to our regular topics of study like anatomy and physiology, disease description and treatment, and problem-solving methods. But there’s no denying that veterinarians should have a basic understanding of what makes a good business sustainable, because while some of us will actually go on to become business owners, most of us will be a source of income for the business.
In a recent course we didn’t focus on details as much as we explored big concepts. For example, clients feel comfortable paying their bill if they feel the veterinary services given were valuable. If clients don’t understand how much important information can be gleaned from a chemistry panel, or don’t feel welcome or bonded to the veterinary staff, then the perceived value of an exam visit is lowered. But if clients receive excellent customer service, understand the value of diagnostic tests or a medication regimen, and are involved in the decision-making process, then clients will pay their bill and be more likely to return in the future. We also discussed ways to retain technicians, receptionists, and kennel staff, mainly by increasing salary or benefits, recognizing achievements, and promoting staff bonding and continuing education.
We also touched on some important topics like the do’s and do not’s of contract negotiation, marketing pitfalls, and the importance of keeping up-to-date on business trends. I really appreciated getting some hard facts about pet insurance, new vet salaries, and profit margins on different veterinary services.
While it was sometimes frustrating to pay attention to accounting vocabulary or the process of investing in a vet clinic, overall I found the course to be very enlightening and pretty interesting.