Veterinary practice “chains” have been described as both the death of our profession, and the security of its future. The debate is heated making the decision to pursue, or not to pursue, corporate practice employment a challenge for new veterinary graduates.
We’ve put together a collection of important points to consider when choosing the practice that is best for you.
What is Corporate Veterinary Practice?
Corporate practices typically have multiple locations in a region, or even across the country, that are owned by a single entity. Each location usually employs multiple DVMs and paraprofessionals, such as vet techs, vet assistants, receptionists, etc.
Hospital policies and procedures are often standardized, and a corporate office in a different location usually handles the majority of the “business stuff”. The type of care offered is generally similar from practice to practice within a given group.
Corporate Practices versus Private Practice Training and Mentoring: Overall, Corporate Practices tend to be more structured than their private counterparts. New vets are often paired with a more seasoned vet, or assigned a specific mentor to assist them in the transition to practice. Formal training modules on topics from medical care to practice philosophy are also commonplace in corporate practices. This extra support is often attractive to the new graduate.
Work Hours: Corporate practices located within retail stores are bound by the store’s hours. On the positive side, it is less likely your work hours will extend beyond the hospital’s posted hours. This makes work-life balance more predictable. On the negative side, retail stores, and the animal hospitals within them, are often open seven days per week. Although it is unlikely you will work every weekend, Saturday and Sunday shifts are typically impossible to avoid.
After Hours Emergency Duty: With the increasing availability of “emergency only” facilities, the requirement to take after-hours calls is less common than in the past. In the case of retail-housed corporate practice, all after-hours emergencies are referred elsewhere because access to the hospital is not possible when the retail store is closed. Freestanding corporate hospitals also often refer their emergencies. However, there are corporate practices that offer 24-hour care and handle their own emergency duty.
Salary: Starting salaries for new veterinarians vary significantly depending on location and practice type. Do not assume that corporate practices will automatically pay more than their private counterparts. Many variables contribute to the salary offered to a new veterinarian. Do you homework in advance to know what is standard in the area where you are seeking to practice. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Employee Benefits: The breadth of benefits a business can offer to employees, including insurance, licensure support, continuing education and the like, is often directly related to the its size. As a result, the benefits offered by corporate practice are typically more extensive than those offered by stand-alone clinics.
Opportunity for Advancement: As the roles of the veterinary healthcare team continue to evolve, today’s DVMs are looking for new opportunities to advance their careers. Corporate practices offer the most structure when it comes to opportunities for advancement. Many locations have Medical Directors or Chiefs of Staff who serve as the “head veterinarian” for the practice. Regional and National veterinary opportunities also exist. Therefore, advancement-minded associates are well suited for these practices. However, if your goal is to own your own practice one day, keep in mind that is unlikely in the corporate structure.
Relocation: One thing most private practices cannot offer is the opportunity to relocate. Some of today’s largest corporate practices have hundreds of locations across the country. As a result, associates the opportunity to relocate with the comfort of job security in their new zip code.
There is a practice type best suited for every veterinarian. Corporate practices offer several opportunities not available in private practice and are worth considering for the new veterinarian seeking structured training and the ability to relocate in the future.
How to Land Your Dream Job
They say getting in is the hardest part.
“They” don’t know how challenging vet school can be.
But you are in the middle of it and you know that it is very difficult; lots of late nights studying, worrying about your patients, mountains of debt, a giant board exam to pass prior to graduation and then, oh yeah, I guess you should think about getting a job too.
We put together a list of what you should be considering when looking for that DREAM JOB:
- Know what Employers are Seeking in a Vet
- The Top Tips for Finding a Job
- Tips for the Interview
- ...and more!