In 1995, the Veterinary Practice Owners Association was formed to speak as one voice on behalf of veterinarian owned practices for the benefit of our patients, the public, our staff, and our communities.
Veterinarian owned practices are and always have been the backbone of our profession in Ontario. We are the primary caregivers for all our patients. We provide health and quality of life for our patients, we provide excellence in food safety, and we support strongly the human animal bond. We veterinarians all chose this profession, because we want to contribute to the lives of our patients and their owners (our clients). Traditionally the veterinary practice is a stand-alone small business entity. The VPOA provides a platform for veterinarians to work together for the betterment of our profession.
As practice owners, we are also significant employers for our associate veterinarians and auxiliary team and we indirectly support their families and our communities at large. We must not overlook this. We as business owners are creating value for our entire community.
But times are changing and getting tougher for our profession. The pressure on our profession is mounting every year. There are new interests from outside our profession that are prying away from the core of our businesses and practices endangering our role as primary caregivers.
The pressure is building from many sides:
Manufacturers, pet food companies, insurance companies often rely on veterinary practices as a marketing springboard recommending their products to clients and then sometimes confuse consumers with similar versions of these products available through non veterinary outlets.
Regulations being driven by governmental and non-governmental regulators without thorough consultations of the veterinary practice owners sometimes create unrealistic and unattainable levels of administrative work, increasing our cost and risks to run a business and taking the practice owners away from their patients.
Rescue organizations and animal shelters are creating systematized, high volume, veterinary facilities for the public with vaccinations and surgeries. Such organizations replace the practice of veterinary medicine with high volume, low cost procedures that are systematized and rendered impersonal, focusing on mass treatment instead of the individual animal owner or patient. While they are not being funded by the income they generate, but by donations, volunteerism, loss leader models etc., the cost for our fair and individual approach to practice as a vital link is being questioned and often brings our entire profession into public disrepute. But foremost their model may endanger the wellbeing of our patients.
Some referral and emergency centres are increasingly maintaining their patients for more than necessary and virtually eliminating the general practitioners. We feel strongly that continuation of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship with the general practitioner is critical to the long-term well being of pets.
Challenges with associate veterinarians, whose salary expectations don’t match their skill set and ability to contribute to the practice. Veterinary Practice Owners are often required to mentor new associates, for longer periods of time until they acquire technical, medical, and the emotional abilities needed to be an independent, confident veterinarian.
Challenges with fee based medicine, as opposed to quality based medicine. In the public’s eyes all veterinarians have comparable standards, yet we know that standards vary widely. While we encourage a free marketplace and competition, it reflects badly on our profession that cost cutting became a priority in some instances above patient welfare. The health and welfare of our patients needs to be the first concern of all segments of the profession.
Together we will be heard!
As practitioners we love what we do – helping animals and their owners; But the changing regulatory environment, fragmentation of the sources of care of the patient make it harder for the practicing veterinarian to adequately care for their patients. These interferences contribute to an increasing level of stress and dissatisfaction, compounded with a loss of public respect. We should not be surprised that compassion fatigue and burnout are affecting our profession at higher levels than ever before.
The VPOA cares, because we love this profession and we care about what happens to it. Future veterinarians should expect to join a profession that will provide them with professional development and satisfaction. It must provide them with an income to pay back student loans as well as buy a house and have a life outside of work. The VPOA is working for you with the different stakeholders to give us a united voice.
How you can help:
If you are a veterinary practice owner, or if you did own a practice in the past, we invite you to join us! Every new member gives us more weight to impress our unique position. Only when we work together can we reinforce the credibility and contribution of the veterinarian-owned practices.