Individuals who love animals but have more of a penchant for business than science can forgo veterinary school and pursue a career as a veterinary practice manager. Often considered to be the heart of the veterinary practice, the manager is responsible for keeping the business efficient and profitable while tending to the needs of its staff, advertisers, suppliers, and human and animal clients.
Veterinary practice managers oversee a wide variety of duties within a private animal practice. According to DVM magazine, a veterinary publication, some of the main duties include ensuring that the practice and its staff remain in compliance with state and federal regulations, ensuring a smooth and efficient client/patient flow and creating and maintaining an appealing and efficient environment for both staff and clients.
Although there are no formal education requirements, most practices look for individuals who have a college degree in a business-related field. In addition, veterinary practice managers need to excel in certain interpersonal skills. For example, efficient communications skills are needed when relaying and gathering information from both clients and pharmaceutical suppliers. Organization and mathematical skills are helpful when scheduling appointments and billing clients, and advanced computer skills will help ensure that all transactions and records remain orderly and accurate.
According to the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA), hiring an efficient veterinary practice manager can save the business money by allowing its veterinarians to focus most of their time on diagnostics and procedures. In fact, a 2007 survey conducted by VHMA estimated that savings to be about £184.7 an hour, which was the average amount generated by most veterinarians during that year.
Despite the fact that veterinary practices exist to treat animals, the interaction between a practice manager and animal clients never involves medical care and typically occurs only in the reception area when clients arrive and depart with their pets. Instead, the job is very business-centric and includes aspects of marketing, advertising and website development.
Obtaining professional certification in the field of veterinary practice management by taking and passing a written exam provides proof of an individual's commitment to and competence in the profession, according to the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. To qualify to take the VHMA's certification exam, individuals must have been employed as a practice manager for a minimum of three years within the last seven years, have obtained 18 college semester hours in management-related courses and 48 hours of continuing education courses specifically devoted to management and must present four letters of recommendation.