I was listening to a podcast that was saying that corporate practices are picking up new graduate veterinarians and squeezing everything out of them. But is that a generalization of all corporate practices?
I do have to say, I wasn’t initially drawn to corporate practice. Really, my plan out of vet school was to work in a mixed animal practice. A corporate practice is a veterinary practice that was built up, and then as the hospital owner was getting closer to retirement they look for an exit, and a corporation can afford to purchase are a decent asking price. More and more clinics are being purchased by corporations, but also fewer veterinarians are looking to own.
A few years out, a few years in a private small animal practice, I sought out a position at a corporate practice, initially for the opportunity to easily transfer across practices, for personal reasons. I also never saw myself as a clinic/hospital owner. So where do you go up as an associate underneath another veterinarian? No where, there is no where to go up.
I had interviewed with an operations director at a corporate practice years prior, and reached out to her, because I really enjoyed her energy, so if I could find a place that replicated that, I thought it would be a good place to be.
I was introduced to a hospital manager and medical director at a corporate practice, and the hospital manager’s energy was exactly what I was seeking. I only have experience with one corporation, but having worked at three different locations, gives me a good idea of how things are managed. So, instead of listing off the problems of corporate practices, I want to point on the advantages.
1) Positive work environment. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve worked at several private practices with toxic energy. Corporations have a lot of sifting to ensure that those toxic environments are minimized. Not all private practices are toxic, but a lot of them are, and no one wants to talk about that.
2) Options. You may have the option to work straight salary or on production. They will also support you if you wish to specialize.
3) Mentorship. The corporation I work in has a mentorship program, so that new graduates are matched with a mentor, and have someone to be a sounding board who wants to be a mentor. 4) Benefits. More holiday time, health and dental benefits. Paid CE and paid time for CE.
5) Regular check-ins. How are you doing? How can we improve? Imagine meeting with your manager every 6 months to ensure you are thriving.
6) Minimum standards. Not all private practices think they can afford dental radiography. But all dental procedures should include radiographs. When a corporation purchases a practice they put money into the practice to upgrade equipment. Not all private practices are below standard of care either! So don’t get me wrong! They just don’t have the same buying power.
A Couple of Myths of Corporate Practice
1) Cookie-cutter medicine. Every single pet that comes in is treated as an individual, and the veterinarian and the pet owner work as a team. I work in a corporate practice, and I have freedom to practice medicine how I want to.
2) Impersonal. I say regardless of where you go, if you go to a large multi-doctor practice, you may end up seeing a different veterinarian at each visit. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have a preferred vet, feel free to ask for them. Just keep in mind that if your pet needs urgent care, it’s better for them to see a doctor in the same practice sooner, than to wait for your pet’s primary vet to be available three weeks from now.
I’m not saying that corporate practice is for everyone. But don’t knock it until you try it! Just remember, I only have experience at one corporation, and it’s in Canada, so other corporations in the world may operate differently.
There are a few other websites that have taken a pros and cons perspective.