CEO-to-be of veterinary financial organization talks about Web tools, student debt

CEO-to-be of veterinary financial organization talks about Web tools, student debt

May 28, 2008
By staff

It's not until July 1 that Karen Felsted, CPA, DVM, CVPM, will officially begin as CEO of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI). But in a recent interview with Veterinary Economics, she shared a few of her thoughts about her hopes for the future of the organization and the industry at large.

Echoing many other experts in the field, Dr. Felsted says the student debt issue is growing in importance. But she doesn't think the industry has the pull to change college fees or subsidize student tuition. What doctors can do, however, is improve their practice revenue. "This student debt issue, ultimately, is an income issue," she says. Better efficiency, improved productivity, and appropriate fees will do plenty to make sure associates can keep their heads above the debt floodwaters.

To learn more about the situation, the organization is asking doctors to enter their practice's basic financial information on the Web site so the organization can analyze the data. Dr. Felsted says that NCVEI is working to make correlations between revenue growth and specific activities at clinics.

As for future initiatives, Dr. Felsted plans to develop a series of interactive lifetime earning models on the Web site. Veterinarians will be able to see how much they can expect to earn over their lifetimes based on their career choices: small animal vs. food animal vs. equine, owner vs. associate, public vs. private, and internships and residencies. It may sound depressing, but Dr. Felsted think it's an exercise in the power of small choices. "A very small increase in productivity and profitability early in a career has a huge impact on future earnings," she says. The new tools will show that.

Dr. Felsted says the NCVEI will continue to serve as a clearinghouse for industry financial information at this critical time in the profession. Veterinary incomes have been rising drastically in the past 20 years, but in the past two years, they've been flat, she says. "We're in a downturn, and student debt is up," she says. "This will be no time for us to rest on our laurels."

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