One of my biggest pet-peeves is when people tell me there’s no way to make good money in veterinary medicine. Another is when people say that vets don’t get into this profession for the money. Now yes – if your goal in life is to make boat-loads of Benjamins, then becoming a veterinarian is probably not the most efficient way to do it. But it is possible. And please, please don’t think that by becoming a veterinarian you are automatically set on a path where you can’t make a comfortable living for yourself. If there wasn’t money to made in our profession, then why are we seeing corporate investors snatch up all these private practices? Answer: it’s because they can make money! Here’s how I see it:
The first thing you have to understand are the basics of the business of veterinary medicine. Yes, veterinary medicine is a business and making money is important. It’s far too common that new veterinarians today have a negative perspective on making money. It is absolutely imperative that we make money so that we can continue practicing medicine at the level to which we’re trained and also to continue upgrading our equipment. Without money, your ability to practice is dead. I’m not saying to price gouge your clients. I’m saying to charge appropriately for your services. You spent a ton of money getting your education and it’s important for you to realize the great value in the knowledge you have in your head.
The next thing you must understand is the current state of the pet marketplace. Pet ownership is growing at a mind-blowing rate. Pet owners spend literally billions of dollars each year on toys, food, and Halloween costumes. They obviously are willing to spend good money on their pets. So why can’t healthcare be a big part of that. The key to taking a bigger chunk of this pie is to understand what our clients want. Our industry is unique in that our patients are not the ones paying the bills. Our clients are the decision-makers, so ask yourself, what is it that my clients want?
My last word of advice is that if you want to be in the top tier of earners in veterinary medicine, consider owning your own practice. As an associate vet you can only earn as much as you alone are producing for the practice (in most cases). The majority of associate veterinarians earn their income by taking a percentage (18-22%) of their total production. For example, if you sell $300,000 worth of products and services in a year, and you get 20% of your production, you take home $60,000. In this scenario, you are the limiting factor. But if you own the practice, not only are you able to earn a salary based off your production, but you also get to take home the profits of the entire practice. In other words, the better the entire practice performs, which includes all the doctors, all the food you sell, etc., the more you earn. Now keep in mind this is a very simplified example. But here’s the take-home message: practice ownership, which comes with more responsibility and risk, has a significantly higher earning potential than associates.
All in all, don’t sell yourself short. Figure out what sets you apart and what your client actually wants from their veterinarian. Don’t accept the common misconception that there’s no money in our industry. The numbers suggest otherwise. It’s up to you prove this wrong. Set your sights high!