Amy Grice, VMD, MBA, was our guest on Episode 28 of The Business of Practice Podcast. Grice conducted a survey in early November 2021 in partnership with EquiManagement in which 312 equine veterinarians offered their opinions and insights on topics ranging from income to veterinarian wellness. Listeners can read this in-depth survey article here “State of Equine Veterinary Practice 2021 Survey.” There also will be more information provided in the Spring issue of EquiManagement magazine.
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Issues that Grice discusses in this podcast included the difficulties of veterinary practices hiring and retaining lay and veterinary help. She said 17% of the 312 equine veterinarian respondents had no staff, which was in line with a previous AVMA/AAEP survey. Those practices who are looking for staff are having trouble—sometimes a lot of trouble—but the survey showed they weren’t having as many issues retaining staff.
“The 312 respondents backed up what we’ve been hearing,” said Grice.
She said practices were busier in 2020 than in 2019, and that continued with practices being busier in 2021 than in 2020. She said the big majority of practitioners said they had more revenue and worked more hours in the past two years than in 2019.
“Almost half of respondents saw more emergencies,” said Grice. “But they can’t hire help. They are doing better financially, but that’s not enough to offset the [additional] work.
“It’s a perfect storm of increasing business and lack of people to help,” she stated.
Grice also covered veterinarian wellness issues, some of which ties directly back to being busier and having less help.
“Thank goodness practices are doing well and have the means to make positions more attractive,” Grice said. “Will this last? We really don’t know. People are re-evaluating their lives.”
One thing Grice has supported is veterinarians hiring assistants or licensed vet techs.
“Even if it’s an assistant to drive or help unload and load the truck, how less tired would you be if you had help to do that?” said Grice. “That assistant doesn’t have to be a horse person; maybe a retired person would like to do that a few days a week. Think outside the box.”
However, she pointed out how much more valuable it would be to have someone who could help you with more tasks, and allow you to focus on your patients and clients wile at the same time being safer with an experienced horse handler.
Telemedicine is also something Grice covered in the survey and podcast. She found it “shocking” that 75% of those doing any form of telemedicine are not charging. “That has to change,” she emphasized.
Of the 25% who were charging, she found that 10% were charging $50 or more for each telemedicine visit.
“Veterinarians only have their time to sell, so do not give time away,” she said.
For personal care, she reminded listeners that people need connection. “When you are stressed, you might not have the energy to connect,” said Grice.
She said everyone needs family or a “tribe” where they can offload some of that “how was your day.”
Grice also reminded veterinarians that exercise is a great stress reducer. She encouraged self-care, and said practice owners need to encourage self-care among their staffs.
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