The Business of Practice: Getting an MBA

In this episode, Drs. Kelly Zeytoonian and Martha Mallicote discuss their experiences getting Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees.
MBA concept
Many equine veterinarians and practice owners would find an MBA to be of value. | Getty Images

In this episode of The Business of Practice podcast, Kelly Zeytoonian, DVM, MBA, CERP, and Martha Mallicote, DVM, MBA, Dipl. ACVIM, discussed their experiences getting Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees after establishing successful careers as equine veterinarians. They described how their experiences in equine practice led them to pursue this additional education, the programs they chose, surprises they encountered, and the benefits getting an MBA has had on their practices.  

Zeytoonian described how, as an associate, she was involved in changing and updating many of the practice’s operations, which she said led to better outcomes for both patients and employees. Once she started her own practice, she felt that having more management education would help her create the best working environment for her team. She and her husband (also a veterinarian) undertook the MBA journey simultaneously. They chose a hybrid program with both remote and in-person interactions. 

Mallicote had a business background before veterinary school, but when she began teaching business to veterinary students, she decided to pursue higher education to gain an even stronger background. She enrolled in an executive MBA program designed to accommodate those working full time during the curriculum.  

When asked what surprised them about earning their MBA, Mallicote said she was amazed by the value of the cohort she studied with and the teamwork required. She learned as much from her classmates as from the program material, she said. Zeytoonian said her surprises were learning that “veterinary medicine is not unique in having poorly run businesses,” and the soft skills that require self-reflection are some of the most powerful aspects involved in creating a successful business.  

In closing, Zeytoonian said veterinarians are lifelong learners and goal-oriented, and many would find an MBA to be of value because of how it broadens one’s world. Mallicote said this kind of intensive study is not for every practice owner, but learning about basic business concepts certainly is.  

You can reach Zeytoonian at and Mallicote at

About Dr. Kelly Zeytoonian 

Kelly Zeytoonian, DVM, MBA, CERP, is the owner of Starwood Equine Veterinary Service and Starwood Veterinary Consulting. She earned her DVM from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009 and her MBA from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler School of Business in 2020. In 2013, Zeytoonian established an ambulatory practice, Starwood Equine, in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has since grown to include six doctors and two locations. She also serves as faculty at Foothill Community College, where she contributes to the future of the veterinary field by educating RVT candidates. Zeytoonian is a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and serves on the AAEP Commission on Equine Veterinary Sustainability’s Practice Culture Subcommittee, which she co-chaired at its inception. She has also served on the Board of Directors of The Northern California Association of Equine Practitioners. 

About Dr. Martha Mallicote 

Martha Mallicote, DVM, MBA, Dipl. ACVIM, is a Weeks Endowed Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department. The Weeks Endowed Professorship is appointed to a faculty member who demonstrates exemplary success as an innovator and scholar in teaching and is a role model for collaboration, teamwork, and faculty citizenship as a mentor and educational leader. Mallicote teaches veterinary students in the classroom, the Large Animal Hospital, and in the veterinary business curriculum. She is the director of the Veterinary Business Certificate Program for DVM students, which has grown to include almost a quarter of the DVM cohort, preparing them to own and operate their own veterinary practices. Mallicote earned her Bachelor of Science in 2000 at the College of Charleston School of Business & Economics. In 2006, she graduated with her DVM from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. After an internship, she completed a residency at The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2012. In 2019, she completed her MBA at the University of Florida.  

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