What's considered normal compensation for a specialist? Is it financially viable if I offer them more than the norm?

May 08, 2008

"Many specialists feel they should get paid more just because they are a specialist, but the truth is they shouldn't," says Mark Opperman, CVPM, owner of VMC Inc., a veterinary consulting firm in Evergreen, Colo. "They should get paid more because they produce more."

Opperman says the maximum for paying a specialist based on production is typically 25 percent, including all employment costs. However, he says specialists exploring the market have challenged the number recently, asking for as high as 35 percent. "They're saying, ?I deserve more because I'm a specialist,'" he says. "But practice owners have to understand that the 25 percent number isn't just pulled out of the air. It's based on the economics of their practice."

After taking into account rent, utilities, legal and accounting expenses, support staff costs, inventory costs, overhead costs, and 25 percent compensation for each associate doctor, what is typically left over for the owner is between 10 to 15 percent, Opperman says. If owners pay more than 25 percent of the specialist's production, they'll be voluntarily taking away their return on investment. "It gets to the point where it makes no sense to hire a doctor because what you are paying them is making you lose money."