The ultimate dream for most veterinary school graduates is setting up a clinic or veterinary practice of their own. However, what’s more practical for most new graduates starting their career these days is to work first as an apprentice under a licensed professional. Eventually, the time comes when they’re fully prepared to strike out on their own and put up their own practice. Here are some helpful pointers to consider for someone who plans to run his own veterinary practice business.
- Stock up on experience. The advantage of waiting for a few more years until you put up your own practice is that you have time to concentrate on acquiring work experience and other practical skills needed to be an excellent veterinarian. In the early years of starting your career, you can work as an apprentice under a seasoned veterinarian, a well-known animal hospital, or an animal welfare association that needs veterinarians-in-training. The added experience, skills, and knowledge would serve you well and give you the confidence you need to start your own practice.
- Decide on your specialty or type of practice. As with human doctors, there are also different types of specialization for veterinarians. Choose to specialize in something that you have interest and passion for. Consider something that you’re really good at. You can specialize in large types of animals, domestic animals like house pets or livestock, or even exotic animals. Whatever it is, you have to make up your mind on one type because the structure and needs of your clinic, including your technology, instruments, and equipment, would all depend on what you specialize in.
- Create a business plan. Since putting up your own practice also means putting up your own business, it’s essential to have a business plan. Include everything you can in your business plan—financial matters, location, equipment, additional staff, etc. Be thorough and make sure you’ve got every aspect covered.
- Consider the type of technology, instruments, and equipment you need. Start by covering first all basic veterinary clinic supplies, instruments, and equipment like oxygen and heart monitors, weighing scale, examination table, thermometers, etc. Other bigger and more complex stuff would depend on your budget and needs. For example, if you’re located close to a major animal hospital, it might not be a priority to get yourself a CAT scan or X-ray equipment. You can just give referrals instead for CAT scans and X-rays to the nearby animal hospital, while you stick with taking charge of basic health care for animals.
- Decide whether to offer additional services. Some veterinary clinics get their additional income from the extra services they provide like selling a variety of pet products (pet food, grooming essentials, toys, vitamins, etc.) offering pet grooming services, or putting up an adjacent pharmacy. Offering additional services may turn out to be more beneficial for those sole veterinary clinic businesses in a specific area, since they don’t have any other veterinary businesses to compete with.
Opening their own veterinary practice is the ideal for many new aspiring veterinarians. But it is advisable not to rush this process because a veterinarian needs superior skills and sufficient experience in order to be an excellent practitioner. Aside from this, starting a veterinary practice is also as much a business as it is a profession. Careful planning and prudent decision-making should also go into it.