Non-DVM practice ownership: to support staff and management (Proceedings)
Non-DVM practice ownership has long been the standard in most states. This is because the practice acts require it in slightly more than half the states. The remainder of the states may or may not allow non-veterinary ownership of a veterinary practice, but do not directly address the issue in their practice acts.
With corporate consolidators and large national chains of practices, some method of non-veterinarian ownership has been developed. The existence of public corporate ownership confirms the existence of non-veterinarian owned practices.
Most practices have long term employees that have the desire and/or should have the privilege of becoming a future practice owner. These facts including a method to broaden the pool of potential buyers for the retiring baby boomer and older practice owners makes non-veterinarian practice ownership very important for our profession.In states where it is allowed, the above needs are met. In states where it is not allowed, the consolidators and others have developed a two tiered business relationship. This allows the non-DVMs to have an operating company to provide the veterinary non-medical services and to meet most practice acts that require only licensed veterinarians can be practice owners.
The practice assets, including inventory, building and staff, may be owned by a management service organization (MSO) which is owned by non-veterinarian shareholders whether or not they are in the public stock market as investors or are a few individual stockholders.
With this two tiered business relationship, corporate ownership or staff ownership or some combination of both can thrive, as long as the non-veterinarian owners are not dictating to the veterinarians how to practice medicine, nor directing the medicine that is practiced. This issue of preventing medical practice direction by non-veterinarians is generally the intent of the practice acts.
This non-veterinarian ownership is also important to permit widows and widowers and the heirs from having a hardship placed upon them with a forced "fire sale" upon the death of the veterinarian.
The main points of opposition to non-veterinarian practice ownership are to prevent corporation control over the profession and/or control over the professional ethics, and to prevent cities and other public or quasi-public entities from owning veterinary practices and competing with private practices.