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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

The Work is Good!

In August, I addressed the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine’s Class of 2021 during orientation. Thirty years previous, nearly to the day, I was in that seat for orientation of the Class of 1991. This opportunity gave me pause; reflecting my point of reference regarding veterinary medicine, a message to share once more.

The profession is challenged on numerous fronts, moving us ever closer to disruptive change; high cost of education, large student debt, small starting salaries, legislative challenges to veterinary practice acts, telemedicine, veterinary practice aggregation; to name a few. Our profession needs the vision and the passion to develop opportunity from these challenges.

Private practices must generate profit adequate to compensate recent graduates for escalating educational costs and student debt. Good medicine is good business and good business supports good medicine. Practice owners are responsible for managing practices with high degrees of business acumen.

Strategies to increase veterinary practice relevancy must be implemented, after all we’re the animal experts; we need to own this space! Fragmentation within practices and within the profession, hinders our ability to effectively overcome the profession’s challenges. Set aside differences, identify common ground and leverage the opportunities.

Our profession experiences far higher than average levels of psychological distress, depression, suicidal ideation and substance abuse. We have the knowledge, we have the resources, we have to take action assisting veterinary profession members suffering from emotional distress and substance abuse.

Increase our legislative engagement; the Wisconsin legislature’s actions directly affects many WVMA members’ professional and business activities. Participate on the WVMA Legislative Committee, financially support both the WVMA and the AVMA PAC’s.

Access to veterinary medical care is receiving growing focus nationwide; 23,000,000 pets are estimated to have no access to veterinary medical healthcare. Let’s seize this opportunity. Get creative and devise business models to turn this need into profitable demand for veterinary services.

Take control of animal welfare; once again, we need to own this, we’re the animal experts. Our role is to be informed and educated regarding the process to successfully assist law enforcement and humane organizations in relieving animal abuse and neglect. Our role is to be vigilant, our role is to not make excuses, our role is to not look the other way. Err on the side of the animal and have the courage to take action on behalf of the helpless.  

To our recent graduates and those commencing their veterinary education and careers – You’re smart, you’re hardworking, you’re motivated, you’re accomplished. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The profession needs you to be proud, walk tall, look people squarely in the eye, shake their hand firmly and confidently and most importantly; smile! Urgently pursue your dreams and your vision. Hone your medical and surgical skill, strive to be kind, caring, highly skilled clinicians, develop your mentoring and business management repertoires.

To everyone in the profession – Ladies and Gentlemen, the profession needs you. There is a lot of work to be done and the work is good. Please know, you can make a difference!

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