As an associate veterinarian, are you helping your practice grow? Or is your boss losing money by allowing you to breathe
the exam room air? My new-found concern about this issue stems from a discussion I had recently with a class of senior veterinary
students at the University of Florida.
I asked them to picture themselves as graduates working in a veterinary hospital (that brought smiles to their faces). A patient
comes in requiring a medical work up. How much would they charge for their time and professional services? Do you know what
they said? $250 an hour? $120? $80? $60? No, no, no, and no. Their answer: $30 an hour—that's all new graduates think they're
That blew my mind. How can you come out of four years of graduate education, with more than $80,000 in debt, and think you're
worth only $30 an hour? Accountants, lawyers, and physicians charge $200 or more an hour. I find this mindset even more perplexing
when I factor in clients' esteem for veterinarians and the value they place on your services. So why do veterinarians often
underrate and undervalue themselves?
May be you also left school believing you were worth only $30 an hour. But I promise you, that $30 doesn't begin to cover
your boss's cost to keep your name on the payroll. Associates, it's time for your year-end self-evaluation. It's time to figure
out whether you're earning your keep.
Simply, you earn your keep by producing revenue for the practice. If your pay and benefits equal 25 percent or less of the
revenue you produce, then you're probably paying your way. If your pay and benefits exceed 25 percent, your boss may be losing
money to employ you. (Of course, there are many nonfinancial benefits that associates bring to a practice. Although they're
important, they're also hard to quantify.) So fill out the form on page 26 to learn where you stand, and then let's work on
your weak spots.
Boost your production
If you need to improve your production, start by looking at your professional transactions, or all of the products and services
in which you are personally involved in delivering. (This excludes services such as boarding, grooming, or over-the-counter
sales.) Your average professional per client transaction should be at least $120 and, hopefully, closer to $140. If not, figure
out why. Also look at how your numbers compare with other veterinarians in your practice.
There are basically two ways to boost your professional per client transaction. You can offer clients another service (such
as an ear cytology, a heartworm check, or a skin scraping) or another product (such as toothpaste, a toothbrush, an ear cleaner,
or a shampoo).
I'm not advocating that you sell another product or service just for the sake of generating more money. But you likely have
more opportunities to educate clients about important products or services that would improve their pets' care.