"Specialty practices trying to attract new specialists aren't just competing with other practices," says Mark Opperman, CVPM, owner of VMC Inc., a veterinary consulting firm in Evergreen, Colo. "They're also competing with universities."
Opperman says some specialists may lean toward the university environment because they offer good benefits, a 9 to 5 work schedule, and a lighter caseload. "In my opinion, it is a very different practice environment," he says. "But some specialists prefer private practice because they have more entrepreneurial opportunities. They might work longer hours, but they can buy into the practice later on and reap the financial benefits of ownership and interest."
Universities typically offer specialists an annual salary that may not fluctuate that much during the course of the year. Opperman says specialists working in a private practice have more earning power because they are paid based on their production, which means there is no limit on how much they can make.
Regardless of the pros and cons associated with the private practice and university environments, Opperman says money will always be a part of the decision. "You have to stay competitive because there's a huge demand for specialists all over the country. And they've got options. I know one specialist presently at a university that has four offers on the table," he says.