Keys to success in rural practice (Proceedings)


Keys to success in rural practice (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2009

There is a perception that a rural practitioner has a much harder time achieving "success" than if that same doctor had gone into small animal practice in the big city. The first question that begs to be answered is, "What is Success?" There is not a universally agreed upon answer and for this seminar we are going to be a bit vague in its definition. Many would include components such as: enjoyable work, comfortable lifestyle, great colleagues/staff, financial reward, variety of tasks, intellectual stimulation, sense of accomplishment, "making your mark," appreciative clientele . . . we could go on and on. The key is that you need to define success for yourself. Write down your definition of success and look at it in each quarter.

I think for most of us in rural practice, the definitions of success that include things like sense of accomplishment, appreciative of clients and great colleagues/staff are the easy ones. Subjects such as finances and enjoyable work after you've just replaced a prolapsed uterus at 3:00 am may not be as easy to get you all nodding yes when we're defining success.

The most important aspect of having a reasonable expectation for your income is that you must believe what you are doing has monetary and social value. You must also believe that it is ethically responsible for you to be financially successful.

Most of you have some misconceptions. Among these are: Feed stores, catalogs, manufacturers and distributors are impossible to compete with; clients won't pay for veterinary medicine; clients only want the product at the cheapest price.

The truth is that the veterinarian is considered the best source of information and the best place to buy products. Producers would rather buy from veterinarians if they are priced competitively.

My foundational keys to success are

1) Practice excellent medicine,

2) charge a fee that reflects your excellence,

3) if you don't do #1, you can't do #2,

Never forget that clients want VALUE. Almost no one complains about price, but if you don't' provide VALUE, many will complain (or go elsewhere).

I preach to my students to join an excellent practice because you will become the practice. If that is a scary thought then we have real concerns. The bottom line is that your future economic success depends on . . . YOU!

Table 1
What is the outlook for food animal practice? The demand for service is high, U.S. meat consumption continues to be high and the U.S. population is now over 306 Million. All we seem to hear are doom and gloom while all of these factors are positive for our future.

Types of food animal clients
• 4-H and hobby farm clients
• Family farms with livestock interest
• Larger livestock production unit that use conventional markets
• Integrated livestock businesses that market food directly to consumers

Big practice changes 30 years
• Antibiotics improved
• Vaccines improved
• Reproductive management programs
• Herd health
• Paid for consultation
• Ultrasound
• Internet
• Selection for meat quality

Table 2
Keys to success
• Live where you can thrive in practice (this may be more than 5 miles from home!). Driving time is not in the best interest of your BUSINESS.
• Practice efficiency
o LA – driving, specialists, guying groups
o SA – office visits, wellness, surgery
• Who is in charge of your BUSINESS?

Philosophy statement

"Our task as the herd health veterinarian is to take a history, perform a physical exam on the animals and on the business, analyze the research and then make the best recommendations based on these facts.

The owner's task is to take our information and make the 'best' decisions."

Do not forget that we are only making recommendations and do not become disenchanted when the producer does not do everything you suggest. Do you do everything your physician suggests?

More philosophy

"It's my job to tell the client he's not doing things quite right, he needs to change his behavior, he needs to pay me for that and he needs to invite me back again.""I don't deserve any money until I can figure out how to get them to implement the change."

Bob Larson, DVM, PhD

"Determine what services your clients need and position yourself to deliver those services"

John Groves, DVM