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2016 AVMA Economic Summit

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The AVMA Veterinary Economic Strategy Committee and the Economics Division hosted the 4th annual Economic Summit in Schaumburg on October 24 – 25. A few dozen participants attended the first Summit in 2013, over 200 representatives of private practice, academia, allied organizations and industry participated in this year's event, legitimizing the AVMA Executive Board's 2009 vision to develop strategies addressing the profession's economic issues.

I'm most gratified, as an inaugural committee member and recent committee chair, to report the progress made in understanding our profession's finance and economics is nothing short of amazing. Twenty-four presentations on wide varieties of financial and economic topics place this meeting at the top of the attendance list for veterinarians seriously interested in fine tuning their practice's financial performance.

A few high highlights-

• Dr. Michael Dicks encourages practice owners to monitor The Conference Board Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI). This index displays the United States business cycle revealing clues regarding timing of economic downturns, allowing you to position your practice to weather the storm. Don't rely on the media's interpretation, judge for yourself.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. increased in September
Source: The Conference Board

Conference Board LEI

• Dr. Lisa Greenhill reports our profession continues to attract robust applicant pools; 7,000 applicants for 4,200 seats at U.S. veterinary medical colleges for the class of 2021, with GPA's remaining consistent at 3.5.
• New graduate income increases continue, according to Dr. Bridgette Bain; the 2016 class mean annual income approximates $73,000.
• SAVMA President, Matt Holland's compelling presentation regarding the profession's wellness guides the Economics Division to quantify compassion fatigue's financial impact on the profession.
• Veterinary CPA Terry O'Neil's presentation includes a plethora of financial strategies and statistics from over 300 of the nation's most profitable veterinary practices. What do they know the average veterinary practice doesn't?

I proudly report the veterinary medical profession leads the way in economic data collection and analysis. No other allied health profession, including the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association, support an Economics Division. Other health professions are noticing the veterinary profession's cutting edge efforts, the AVMA is truly raising the bar to new standards.

As 2016 draws to a close, consider opportunities to improve your practice's financial performance. Practice owners have responsibility to manage practices with high degrees of business acumen, the profession's profitability must increase to the profession's financial benefit.

• March 25 – 26, the WVMA partners with AVMA to present the highly touted Practice Profitability Workshop which debuted at the 2016 AVMA San Antonio convention.
• The Practice Profitability Workshop repeats at the July AVMA Convention in nearby Indianapolis. In addition to presenting the original level 1 workshop, the first level 2 workshop will be available to previous attendees, continue to hone your business management skills.
• Attend the 5th annual AVMA Economic Summit in Schaumburg on October 23 -24, 2017 and learn the current data and research regarding issues impacting the financial health of the veterinary medical profession and its markets.

Why chart this course? You must chart this course because good medicine is good business, and good business financially supports good medicine. Make 2017 the best year yet for your practice, for your profession!

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Presidents Message

Planting Seeds - Growing Tomorrow's Veterinarians

Growing up on a farm in north central Wisconsin, I had a natural affinity to animals. My first passion was horses; my Dad used draft horses in the woods for making maple syrup. Later I became enamored with cows, and enrolled in 4-H and showed them at the county fair for many years. This innate preference for animals was no doubt a significant factor that contributed to my career choice of a veterinarian.

As a 12-year-old boy, I was amazed at the abilities and insights of our veterinarian as he attended to our animals. I was amazed at his ability to determine the pregnancy status of our cows by rectal examination. Given the challenges of artificial insemination, the rectal examination results were sort of a “report card” so to speak of our efforts. I always eagerly awaited the diagnosis, and when the cow was not pregnant appreciated advice and/or treatment to help achieve that goal. Additionally, I valued his ability to solve problems. From sorting out why a cow was sick and how to make her better, to delivering a “stuck” calf, the veterinarian left the farm in better shape than when he came. While this type of practice is considered “fire engine” practice, it was the norm back then. The preventive health programs that are common today were just being developed at that time. The notion of helping people with their animals appealed to me.

My curiosity in veterinary medicine lead me to seek job shadowing opportunities while I was in high school and college. Our veterinarian graciously allowed me to ride along several times. I learned quickly what a large animal veterinarian’s day was like and decided to pursue that career.

Aside from my affinity to animals, my job shadowing experience ranks as the next most important factor that focused my efforts to become a veterinarian. Recognizing the importance of job shadowing, I have returned the favor to many youths considering veterinary medicine as a career. The majority of those that rode with me while I practiced were high school or undergraduate college students. I always discussed the wide spectrum of opportunities that exists in veterinary medicine with them and enjoyed their conversation.

School organized Career Days are another venue to tell young people about the opportunities in veterinary medicine. My practice associates and I have participated in many of these programs at our local high schools over the years.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had great fun going into kindergarten classes to share some of the things I did as a cow doctor. I always got loud gasps when I showed them a cow aspirin and a hoof nipper, the bovine version of a fingernail clipper. Young children are fascinated with animals, and frequently rank veterinary doctor as what they want to be when they grow up.

I encourage you to embrace the opportunities to nurture young people’s interest in veterinary medicine. We have to plant the seeds that will grow into the next generation of veterinarians.

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