The Business of Practice: Generational Differences

Recognizing and using generational differences in your veterinary practice staff can help your communication and bottom line.
Baby Boomer male vet cell phone
Most equine veterinary practice owners are Baby Boomers. How can different generations better facilitate communication between the generations? iStock

Generational differences are based on the different experiences that people have growing up that color how they think, explained Amy Grice, VMD, MBA. Grice was an equine practitioner for more than 20 years before starting Veterinary Business Consulting. She advises veterinarians and practice owners on a wide variety of projects and challenges, and she is the current AAEP Treasurer.

In this episode of The Business of Practice podcast, Grice helps veterinarians and their staffs of all ages understand why there are generational differences, the largest factors that shaped the generations, and how to communicate better between generations.

“I remember feeling sad and upset when a younger client wanted to use a younger vet in the practice because they had more in common,” recalled Grice.

“I also remember the story of an intern looking to a new employer for mentoring and communication,” said Grice. “She texted. He called. And both were frustrated” at not being able to communicate.

Topics discussed:

  • What does the shift in generations mean to the equine veterinary profession?
  • What are generational differences?
  • What does the veterinary industry look like?
    • AVMA data on who is in profession
  • What does this mean?
    • Millennials bring to table
  • Many veterinary practice owners are Baby Boomers. How can other generations facilitate communication between those different generations?

Check out Grice’s article AAEP Convention Vet Wellness Coverage Generationally Speaking in the Spring 2022 EquiManagement magazine.

Generations Defined

The following information is from an article by Colleen Best, DVM, PhD, BsCH titled Intergenerational Communication.

Silent Generation— Born Prior to 1946

Individuals of this generation have experienced the most amount of conflict—i.e., World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. They were also raised by parents who experienced both World Wars and the Great Depression.

Members of this generation grew up in a largely pre-feminist era in which women tended not to work outside the home. From a career standpoint, loyalty to companies and jobs was strong, and often, the same job was held for life. The “Silents” are often described as “disciplined, self-sacrificing and cautious.”1

Baby Boomers— Born 1946-1964

This generation has been referred to as the “me” generation, and its members have been described as “self-righteous and self-centered.”1 They began the wave of changing common values, including women working outside of the home and the social acceptance of divorce.

Television was common. Individuals from this generation are hopeful, motivated and team oriented; they also welcome and respect hierarchal structure and tradition.

Generation Xers— Born 1965-1979

The children of this generation were often home alone while both parents were at work; it has been said that television raised this generation.

Further, the way in which knowledge was accessed shifted from paper to digital during their formative years. As adults, they tend to be individualistic and prefer to rely on themselves; however, they often retain a strong sense of family and want to be “present” parents, unlike their own.

Members of this generation prefer to commit to themselves, as opposed to members of earlier generations, who committed to an organization. The value shift that began with the Baby Boomers continued with this generation’s concern for individual rights, particularly those of minority groups.

Millennials—Born 1980-2000

Millennials were raised by hopeful, present and active parents. They were taught to believe that they are unique and valuable. Individuals respect authority, prefer to schedule activities and like to work in teams.1 They experience significant levels of academic pressure and have high expectations of themselves.

With respect to careers and work, they prefer a relaxed work environment with support and feedback. Due to the accessibility of information, they tend to hold strong views.

Disclaimer: This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other medical providers with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, (collectively, “Synchrony”) makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in the article are the sole opinions of the author. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.


1. Novak, J. The six generations living in America. http://www.marketingteacher. com/the-six-living-generations-in-america/. Accessed November 15, 2016.

Further Reading

Generational Design by Heather E. Lewis, AIA, NCARB, of Animal Architects.

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