Vets Ask Dr. Dave: How can I be paid by the numbers when I'm not shown the numbers?

Vets Ask Dr. Dave: How can I be paid by the numbers when I'm not shown the numbers?

Does this sound like an economically (or ethically) viable scenario to you? Ehh—Dr. Nicol doesn't think so either.
Aug 04, 2017

In “Vets Ask Dr. Dave,” CVC educator Dave Nicol, BVMS, Cert. Mgmt MRCVS, answers colleagues’ questions on the business of veterinary medicine. In this episode, Dr. Ben says, "I'm paid on production, but the boss doesn't show me all the numbers."

Oh boy. Dr. Nicol says this associate has more to worry about than just financial transparency. (Pro tip: Make sure your contract spells out how you're compensated and how you'll know it's above board.) Dave sees two potential problems with this scenario:

1. Veterinarians (and those in similar professions who are “vocationally interested in caring”) aren’t purely driven by the prospect of making money. This already makes the production-based compensation model a nonstarter.

2. Lack of transparency is the big problem here. “You’re being asked to work on the goodwill of someone who wishes to remain secretive about numbers that you really ought to see,” Dave says. “How do you know you’re getting a fair shake?”

Short answer: You don’t.

So listen as Dr. Dave gives advice on how to start this essential conversation with your employer and lays out what a veterinarian’s salary could be. (CVC educator Brian Conrad, CVPM, might have another point of view for Dr. Ben: Sharing the numbers actually makes increasing profitability easier. But you should also check out this paper (PDF) and this paper (PDF) for research that show business owners may be better off focusing on culture and job design than on salary to improve employee satisfaction and business performance.)

Want more from Dr. Nicol? Go to the full video to hear about faking it until you make it and paperwork from hell.

Would you like to get Dr. Dave’s take on your veterinary business question? Reach him through all the likely channels: Use the hashtag #VetsAskDrDave on Twitter (@drdavenicol) or Facebook (, or email [email protected].