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What are some obstacles that a veterinarian will face should they desire to open their own practice?

I hope to open my own practice after I have fulfilled all the requirements to become one, but I would like to know the pros and cons of going solo instead of joining a clinic, animal hospital, or organization. #veterinary #animals


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Christopher’s Answer

I am assuming you are referring to choices as a newly graduated veterinarian? Here are some pros/cons to owning your own practice vs employment with a corporate veterinary practice:

1. New graduate veterinarians need mentoring/coaching! Even though you have graduated with your degree to legally practice most new graduated find they are not fully prepared to effectively practice yet. Some corporate veterinary practices offer mentorship opportunities at certain location. If you open a practice at this time in your career you will be faced not only with managing the business aspects but also grappling with practicing your medicine and surgery solely.
2. You assume all risks and gains when you have your own practice. That is great if the practice is profitable but can be a burden on veterinarians if it is not profitable. Corporate practices do not pass on the burden to their veterinarians and although you won't be the owner with huge profit gains there are often many incentives financially if you do well - bonuses, profit-sharing, production-based revenue etc.
3. Don't forget that you may graduate with a large amount of student loans/debt that will need to be repaid.

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Young Eun’s Answer

Hi! I am not a veterinarian, but I worked for a major veterinary organization with 1000+ clinics across the US for 8 years. My role was in the headquarters as a data analyst. One of the ways our company grew was to acquire hospitals, and I got to witness a lot of the pros and cons of a private practice versus not by looking at the numbers and hearing the stories.

Pros for animal hospital / vet org:

- Reduction of Overheads: There are tons of overhead that will get in the way of practicing medicine if you have a private practice, such as payroll, HR relations, client complaints, financial analysis, accounting, recruiting, technical support, etc. By joining an organization, the central office should be taking care of all of this for you so you can focus on doing what you love. Some of the organizations out there are more about veterinarian autonomy than others, so you should do your research depending on how much control you want to maintain. Glassdoor is a great resource for researching employee reviews.

- Cost Savings: Many of these organizations are able to make profit by finding deals amongst the consolidations. For example, the cost of building a new practice versus paying rent through an established business partnership meant a difference of losing profit versus not. It was highly probable that a new private building would not make money for about 3 years due to the cost of construction. On top of that, you won't run as high of a risk of having to do the market research to determine where to put your practice.

Cons for animal hospital / vet org:
- Control: You will lose control of your practice. Brands are very important to these organizations, and although you will find varying degrees of control, you will absolutely lose some.
- Input: Depending on what else is going on in the organization, your voice may get washed out, and your opinion may not get heard. The central office will also likely dictate things that impact you, your employees, and your clients (ex. the price of services, your employee's salaries, your hours).
- Less $: Kind of a flip-side to the cost savings above, although the practice may be financially successful, it's not necessarily true that you will be since you will be salaried plus maybe some sort of commission structure. In a private practice, assuming you are the owner, if your practice does well, you will probably do well.

I hope this helps. Either way you go, I should say I have never met more passionate people than the veterinarians I worked with. As a dog owner of 3 pups, I couldn't be more grateful for the people who choose to follow this career path. Good luck to you!

Young Eun recommends the following next steps:

Do your research of private practices on websites like glassdoor.com