Helping each other adapt and succeed in changing times

Published on January 10, 2020
AVMA President's Column: Dr. John Howe

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that you need to adapt to be successful, especially in today’s business climate. There is little doubt that the veterinary profession is changing. There’s a lot happening, which means there’s a lot of opportunity for growth. That’s why it’s critical to be thinking about what we all can do differently and better during this transformative period.

That includes your national association. The AVMA understands that we need to grow and evolve to continue delivering value to members and the veterinary profession. 

Take, for example, our work on the veterinary economics front. Over the years, our members and other stakeholders have turned to the AVMA as the trusted source of detailed, unbiased financial and market information that is insightful, data-driven, and relevant to veterinary medicine. By collecting, analyzing, and reporting data on such factors as veterinary education and student debt, employment, practice profitability, and pet ownership, the AVMA provides a crucial service to the veterinary profession.

While we continue to generate these important data points and trends, it’s also critical that we leverage that knowledge to provide guidance and direction. We are increasingly focused on the economic “treatment plans” for the profession to help set our members up for success.

Thinking creatively, identifying opportunities

The dynamic professional landscape in which we operate—and what those in the veterinary profession can do to effect positive change—was the focus of our AVMA Economic Summit held this past October. The summit focused on important and emerging topics like behavioral change, innovation, and technology. Presentations and working sessions equipped attendees with the knowledge needed to help veterinary businesses, clients, and our profession think creatively and identify opportunities to adopt new behaviors and create change.

The AVMA understands that we need to grow and evolve to continue delivering value to members and the veterinary profession.

A record number of business leaders, practice owners, and others with an interest in the economics of our profession shared their expertise and experiences at the summit. Attendees discussed current research and insights on issues impacting the economic sustainability of the profession. The summit attendees walked away with actionable insights into what the future of our profession might look like and how decisions they make today can influence the profession tomorrow.

These thought leaders and subject matter experts spent time learning from each other during the summit. This year’s event was less about didactic learning and more about dialogue. Learning from other attendees was an integral part of the summit experience, including adding even more opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction.

Providing accessible information, practical tools

Much of our work in understanding economic issues facing veterinary medicine is captured in the AVMA’s “2019 Economic State of the Veterinary Profession.” This redesigned report analyzes the markets for veterinarians, veterinary education, and veterinary services, bringing together the three major economic engines that comprise the veterinary profession. We went from a series of four, data-heavy reports to one report containing insightful charts, tables, and infographics. Our goal was to make it easier for readers to see where the veterinary profession is today and what the future may hold within the context of economic trends and practice profitability. The report lays a solid foundation to support decision-makers in the veterinary profession by describing where we are and where we need to go. The report is free for all AVMA members to download, as a benefit of AVMA membership.

Compassion and high-quality veterinary care keep clients coming in the door, but there’s so much more to managing a practice. Running a business requires skills that often aren’t acquired in veterinary school, so I also encourage you to visit our website’s practice management and personal finance sections for other resources that are sure to help. The AVMA personal financial planning tool helps you track expenses and develop a budget. Our market share estimator is a step-by-step worksheet that helps you calculate the potential size of your local market and set realistic goals for growth. And our veterinary salary estimator provides both jobseekers and practice owners with approximate ranges to use as a guide when negotiating salaries. 

We appreciate all that our members do to help guide the AVMA on a path of continuous improvement and added value. AVMA members power this association. Likewise, AVMA’s volunteer leaders and staff are working every day to make a difference in your lives, providing you with a variety of resources to be successful in this wonderful profession. Helping each other brings strength to us all.