Thank you!

Back in August I wrote an essay discussing the importance of veterinary economics in undergraduate education and amazingly won a trip to the second NEAT Annual Meeting in Wageningen. Unfortunately due to the unforgiving commitment of rotations I was unable to attend.  However, I was able to attend the London Vet Show this weekend instead, with considerable thanks to Barbara Haesler and many others at the RVC, who very kindly worked to make this possible. 

Although my initial essay summed up the importance of economics in veterinary medicine, it was not until I attended the Vet Show that I truly appreciated the magnitude of this. I was blown away by the variety of veterinary businesses in existence and - with most stands offering free prize draws for iPads, and one offering an Aston Martin - these business were evidently thriving. 

The businesses included every aspect of the veterinary sector imaginable, from a multitude of veterinary supplies, to financial, business and law consultancy to a number of innovative equipment ideas including veterinary leadership board games and inside toilets for dogs!

I was also struck by the relatively low attendance for the business lectures compared to the clinical based talks, outnumbering them by at least 20 times. For me, the vet show highlighted how veterinary business is an incredibly lucrative economy, the potential of which, amazingly, is still yet to be fully discovered by vets.

Thank you!

Tom​

Tom Hinchliffe, Veterinary Medicine student, Royal Veterinary College

Comments

Hi Tom,

Absolutely great news that you enjoyed the London Vet Show. I also attended and, like you, was shocked by the imbalance of numbers in the crowds between clinical and business sessions. I attended a session on dealing with competition in the market for veterinary services and made a note of the reasons why practices fail:

  • Lack of leadership and vision
  • Lack of team management (i.e. people at the top not communicating effectively)
  • Lack of client care in terms of customer retention and generating new business
  • Failure or absence of internal communications (i.e. lack of staff appraisals, lack of staff involvement in business decision making)
  • Failure to implement accounting and financial knowledge systems.  No KPIs for staff to achieve.
  • Lack of ability to charge for professional services. The emphasis is on profiting from drug sales rather than charging for clinical services

I thought the most interesting thing about this list is that there is not a single item remotely related to the quality of clinical care provided or a vet’s level of clinical knowledge. Similarly, when a group of 107 people were asked to nominate – from a list of five issues - the most important single issue influencing change in the UK veterinary profession, they chose (equally) ‘work/life balance’ and ‘maintaining standards and evidence-based knowledge’.  Sadly and surprisingly, ‘business skills and knowledge’, ‘the emergence of corporate practices’ and ‘the growing market’ lagged behind.

Best wishes,

Liz

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