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Is Your World Flat?

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At one point, people truly believed the world was flat. We all know this core belief was dramatically disrupted. Countless industries experience disruptive business model changes – the music industry transformed from vinyl disks to streaming music; newspapers from print to being available free online; travel from booking through travel agencies to a plethora of instant-booking, travel-related websites. Is disruptive change coming to veterinary medicine?

Basic veterinary practice business models have changed little in decades. The profession's educational process approximates eight years to receive the DVM degree. Most practices are open traditional business hours, five or six days a week. The profession is fragmented, with large capital investments in buildings and equipment duplicated in veterinary facilities in very close proximity to one another. Animal health suppliers experiencing extreme consolidation. Is disruptive change coming to veterinary medicine?

Can we implement strategies in private practice to ensure relevancy? If the profession fails to remain relevant, others will step into the vacuum. Opportunity abounds in animal health, yet others challenge the profession in numerous areas. Our private practice pharmacies, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, and equine dentistry are but a few examples, areas of opportunity the profession should own. After all, we're the animal experts! Seize the opportunity, get creative, and devise business models preserving these activities to the profession's benefit.

Private practices must generate profit adequate to compensate recent graduates for escalating costs of education and student loan debt. Good medicine is good business, and good business financially supports good medicine. Practice owners have responsibility to manage practices with a high degree of business acumen. The profession's profitability must increase to facilitate the management of disruptive change.

Personally commit to the profession. Approach your practice interests passionately. Always strive for excellence. We're highly trained, kind, caring, compassionate professionals. In the early stages of our careers, we hone our medical and surgical skills, becoming highly skilled clinicians. As we gain experience, we add mentoring and business management skills to our repertoires. Surround yourself with teams of highly committed professionals and devise systems to delegate tasks while maintaining responsibility.

The Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association continually positions the profession to embrace change. Numerous program offerings chart the course for the profession's future in Wisconsin. We all benefit from a tradition of visionary leadership – Food Armor®, the cutting edge platform leading the industry in veterinary-directed food safety; the OSHA alliance providing WVMA members with information and guidance to achieve OSHA compliance; the recently announced partnership with the AVMA to bring the highly regarded Practice Profitability Workshop to the state level in March of 2017, giving WVMA members access to cutting edge business management education.

We know the world is not flat; how do we know that disruptive change is not going to affect veterinary medicine? Leverage your WVMA membership to position yourself and your practice to embrace the future!

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Presidents Message

The Need is Great!

In my first President's Message published in November 2016, I challenged the WVMA membership to "Seize the opportunity, get creative and devise business models maintaining these activities to benefit the profession."

Access to veterinary medical care is a growing focus nationwide; the Humane Society of the United States estimates 23,000,000 pets in the U.S. can't access veterinary medical healthcare. Barriers are not strictly financial and include transportation, culture and language. If the profession could lower the veterinary medical care barrier these pets experience, what could the financial impact be? Basic healthcare provided to these pets, using a $200.00 per pet annual estimate, could have a $4.6 billion impact on veterinarian provided medical care. Approximately $24.6 billion is spent on veterinary services nationwide annually. Do the math, 19.6 percent of our industry's revenue is untapped in pets without access to veterinary medical care.

Here's an opportunity; a business model was devised, WisCARES (Wisconsin Companion Animal Resources, Education and Social Services). WisCARES is a UW-Madison program through the School of Veterinary Medicine in a partnership with the School of Social Work. The program's focus is the intersection of housing/homelessness and pet ownership and keeping animals and their people together and feature's veterinary medical wellness, pet food and supplies and boarding and foster for animals. The program is supported by a paid veterinary staff, veterinary volunteers and veterinary medical students in a non-profit environment.

Credit the vision of Drs. Ruthanne Chun and William Gilles for the concept genesis in 2014. The success of this program, providing veterinary medical care to an unmet demand, brings WisCARES to the threshold of expansion. This novel model works. Let's look to expand this model, let's find opportunity to employ more veterinarians. What an opportunity to leverage the human-animal bond, increasing access to pets' and humans' healthcare. This certainly is not the traditional model of veterinary practice, but a highly effective model of veterinary practice.

Once again, I challenge the WVMA membership to - seize the opportunity, get creative and devise business models maintaining these activities to benefit the profession. Support Drs. Chun and Gilles; consider the model; how can the profession leverage 23,000,000 pets without access to healthcare? The need is great!

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Is Your World Flat?
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