Today's Veterinary Business

APR 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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47 April/May 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM cling to the status quo out of fear of losing something. Ironically, this same clinging can create a sense of obligation that leads us to feel trapped and frustrated. In other cases, leaving may not be our best option, but simply recognizing that we genuinely have that option to leave allows us to view a difficult situation from a more positive, productive perspective. In "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah," Richard Bach shares a parable about crea- tures living in a river who spend their entire lives clinging to a rock. When one of them decides to try letting go, the other river rock creatures are shocked and assure him that he will be dashed against other rocks if he were to do something that foolish. Eventually, the one daring soul decides that he has to follow his calling and does let go of the rock, and although he does crash into other rocks along the way, he experiences a life beyond his wildest imagination. This parable suggests some ques- tions that might be helpful in deter- mining whether it is time to move on: • What "rocks" am I clinging to? • Am I feeling an internal impulse to move in a different direction? • Could I trust that my life will unfold in that new direction if I relax and let the current of life take me there rather trying to force it to happen? • Can I trust that the current of life will take me where I was meant to go, even if I have no sense of what that might look like? Acceptance Life is a series of natural and sponta- neous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be real- ity. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. — Lao Tzu Of our three choices — to change, leave or accept a situation — acceptance is often our most powerful option if our goal is to live life in a state of flow. Eckhart Tolle advised: "Accept, then act. Whatev- er the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it." If it is either not possible or wise to try to leave or change a situation, then resistance to the situation will never be helpful, as it will only build negative emotions and energy that are likely to be harmful to ourselves and possibly others. Questions that might assist on the path to acceptance include: • Could I re-envision the situ- ation as if seeing it from the outside, rather than in the middle of the events that are unfolding? • How much of what I am feel- ing is an unavoidable result of what has happened as opposed to my own reaction to what has happened? • Can I imagine the possibility that even the worst of situa- tions could carry within them the most precious of gifts? (For more on the concept of acceptance, read our last article, "When in Doubt, Improvise," in the February/March 2018 issue of Today's Veterinary Business.) Flowing to More Serene Waters The world's faiths have wrestled with many of these same concepts of change, moving on and accep- tance. Perhaps American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr has summed up our options most elegantly with this simple and familiar prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference." Go With the Flow co-columnist Dr. Jeff Thoren is president of VetPartners and founder of Gifted Leaders, a Phoenix company offering leadership and coaching services. Co-columnist Trey Cutler is a San Luis Obispo, California, attorney specializing in veterinary business matters. profession won't go the way of pharmacists and optometrists, who are almost entirely corporatized. Theirs is a commodity-driven busi- ness, while dentistry and veterinary medicine are service-driven pro- fessions. I suspect the veterinary profession will wind up somewhere near 50:50 between independents and corporates. Independent entrepreneurial veterinary owner- ship isn't going away, nor should it. Neither is corporate ownership. I see a bright future for both. Too Hot: Independent Model Independents are native speakers. We understand our profession at a visceral/emotional level. Many independent owners, like myself, are baby boomers. We grew up wanting to own a practice. We're now nearing the end of our career runway and need to sell our prac- tice. Much to our surprise, subse- quent generations are not nearly as interested in practice ownership as our generation was. In cases where associ- ates do have interest and are creditworthy, they're often outbid by the corporates. A passion for medicine brought us to practice ownership. Few of us came to this profession with a desire to read P & L's, write employee manuals or complete OSHA audits. As a result, we've built quality practices that provide superior health care but are often notably lacking in business skill. Independents need only couple their passion for medicine with an understanding of business manage- ment, hire business expertise, or del- egate to someone who is talented and passionate about business. Just Right: The Hybrid Model The challenge is combining the best of both worlds. How can we combine the passion, pride of ownership, veterinary mindset, quality medicine and community connection that independent veterinary practices are known for with the best that corporates bring to our profession? A hybrid model, in which we have expert veterinary leadership coupled with great business acumen, leverages the best of both worlds. These models do exist, and more are emerging. I'm aware of many inde- pendent practices that have figured it out, as well as several growing corpo- rate consolidators that "get it." These Goldilocks models are, and will con- tinue to be, a progressive force in our profession. It's what my WellHaven Pet Health practice family aspires to. This requires doctors to be- come high-level business leaders. Some colleagues find the busi- ness of veterinary medicine intim- idating, but I would challenge us to aspire to medical and business leadership roles. We need to become fluent in business, just as we did in biochemistry and physiology. The business skills are not very difficult considering that we mastered organic chemistry and physics. Business leaders cannot easily become veterinarians, but veteri- narians can become business peo- ple. I look forward to the day when both independent and corporate hospitals are led by empowered, business-savvy veterinarians. After all, we're veterinarians. Who's better equipped to treat Goldilocks' hyperthermic and hypothermic bears? Creative Disruption columnist Dr. Bob Lester is chief medical officer of WellHaven Pet Health and a founding member of Banfield Pet Hospital and the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine. He serves on the North American Veteri- nary Community board of directors. These Goldilocks models are, and will continue to be, a progressive force in our profession. It's what my WellHaven Pet Health practice family aspires to. (Continued from Page 45)

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