Veterinary medicine has long been a thriving industry. Every pet owner wants to ensure their animal companion is at peak health. Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians study long and hard to learn how to properly diagnose and treat our furry friends. They’re very obviously vital to a thriving veterinary practice. But just as necessary is the Veterinary Practice Manager, the person who can confidently and efficiently run a practice. We spoke with Dr. James Hurrell (more commonly known as Dr. Jim to the students and staff at Penn Foster), an expert in veterinary medicine, to learn more about why veterinary practices need managers who aren’t the practice owner and how Penn Foster’s new Veterinary Practice Management Undergraduate Certificate can help grow a strong practice.
Q: Considering your experience in Veterinary medicine and your years of practice, how vital are well trained Veterinary Practice Managers to a thriving practice?
A: Years and years ago, it was common practice for a Veterinarian to “inherit” a practice from their mentor or to start their own practice themselves. Veterinarians were both doctors and business owners. However, in today’s business minded economy, veterinarians need someone with business sense to take care of that end of things. In my experience, most veterinarians are great with diagnostics and medicine, but don’t have as much business savvy. Having a person you can trust to run your business leaves you able to concentrate on being a doctor.
Q: What skills should a good Veterinary Practice Manager candidate possess?
A: A solid background in leadership and business skills, such as accounting, organization & management, marketing, and cost management, is key. Additionally, a practice manager should have well developed soft skills, or people skills. The veterinarian is also trusting the practice manager with keeping the business running, so they should be able to work well with others in an office setting.
Q: Based on your experience in Veterinary medicine, what demand do you predict for trained Veterinary Practice Managers over the next five years?
A: I truly believe that smart veterinarians of all ages should have a trained veterinary practice manager. Over the next five years, all practices—corporate or individually owned—will need one. Veterinarians and practices who understand this early will be better off in the long run.
Q: Why should employers, whether in corporate veterinary clinics or individual practices, seek trained Veterinary Practice Managers?
A: As veterinarians, we need to be able to concentrate on our patients and most of us don’t have an extensive background in business. Having someone who knows the fundamentals of running a business, specifically a veterinary practice, is ideal. It’s a rare bird in the veterinary field that has a strong grasp on fundamental business practices.
Q: Tell us a bit more about the new Veterinary Practice Management Undergraduate Certificate launching at Penn Foster. What can students expect to learn in this program?
A: We’re extremely excited about this new program here at Penn Foster! This is a 19-hour, college-level program focused on developing the knowledge and skills needed by a practice manager today. Students will learn those business fundamentals that can be transferable to any veterinary practice, as well as complete business assignments that focus on veterinary practice management and a whole course just on the basics of running a veterinary practice.
Q: How can veterinary practices benefit from the new Penn Foster Veterinary Practice Management Undergraduate Certificate program?
A: I can’t say enough about how important having these professionals is to running a strong practice and successful business. There are other established programs out there to train an employee to manage your veterinary practice, but often they’re cost-prohibitive and demand time away from work to complete. Our self-paced, online program is not only approved by the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA), it also meets the education requirements for those students who wish to take the Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM) certification exam.
The key here is that a well trained Veterinary Practice Manager will ramp up a practice to be a more profitable business, grow your client list, and give a veterinarian the time they need to concentrate on the medicine. Those who have a skilled Veterinary Practice Manager running the business will allow doctors to focus on medicine and surgery in the practice.
To learn more about Penn Foster’s recently launched Veterinary Practice Management Undergraduate Certificate, click here.
Resources: Photo Credit.