Reinvent and renew your practice

Reinvent and renew your practice

Severely injured in 1996, this practitioner faced a life-altering decision: give up veterinary medicine or transform his practice—and himself—into something else. He chose the latter.
Dec 01, 2007

Television Is Awash With Makeover shows for everything from houses to personal appearance. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is heartwarming and inspirational (these are deserving people!), while What Not to Wear can be hysterical and appalling (are you kidding me with that outfit?). So, in keeping with the cultural landscape, I'm sharing the story of a practice makeover that's been years in the making and in which I've been privileged to play a role. It's inspirational and humorous because of the owner's positive outlook, along with his love and respect for his profession, his team, his patients, and his clients. I hope you'll enjoy this transformation as much as I have.

From large-animal to small

Dr. Charles Curie ("Charlie" to those who know him) started his practice in 1979 in his hometown of Jefferson, Ohio, after graduating from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Originally naming the practice Ashtabula County Veterinary Service, Dr. Curie was a solo large animal practitioner until 1983, when he built a facility, hired an associate, and expanded his services to include companion animal medicine. He changed the practice name to Country Doctor Veterinary Clinic—a carefully chosen title that he felt represented all he believed in: honesty, integrity, compassion, good medicine, and good value.

Denise L. Tumblin, CPA
The practice focused primarily on large animal services at first. "We didn't make much money in those years," Dr. Curie says. "I was too busy practicing medicine to give management much thought. I would have made a good dairy farmer—my work was a labor of love!"

All of that changed in 1995 when Dr. Diane Veale joined the practice, bringing an expertise in companion animal medicine and an enthusiasm for leadership. Dr. Curie says that before Dr. Veale arrived, he allotted companion animal services about an hour a day—and that begrudgingly. He couldn't have chosen to expand the companion animal practice at a better time—the dairy industry was taking a hit and the number of large animal clients was dwindling. But with Dr. Veale on board, things were looking positive for the clinic's future.

Before and after
Then, in the spring of 1996, tragedy struck. Dr. Curie was severely injured by a horse, and as a result he was left with fractured vertebrae, bulging discs, no cervical range of motion, and a numb, weak left arm. Thus ended his ability to practice large animal medicine.

"I spent several years visiting specialists," Dr. Curie says. "They all wanted to know how a man of my age got to be in such deplorable condition. And then each one announced he or she couldn't help—no surgery, no miracles, and no hope." So Dr. Curie focused on rehabilitation through physical and massage therapy, which did help him feel better.