Browse through the program for the upcoming 2009 Western Veterinary Conference and you’ll be struck by the number of continuing education sessions dealing with the business side of veterinary practice. Topics range from improving practice value to enhancing communication, retaining staff to accounting programs and dozens of other non-medical fare fill up the program. One thing is perfectly clear; the business of veterinary medicine is important business.
At the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, numerous programs are in place to help veterinary students meet the financial challenges of private veterinary practice, as well as planning for their financial future as a veterinarian. One of these programs is the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA). The VBMA is a student-run organization that is dedicated to advancing the veterinary profession through increasing business knowledge, creating networking opportunities, and empowering students to achieve their personal and professional goals.
“Business touches every aspect of life for veterinarians, from personal finances to veterinary practice, and our organization helps students develop an understanding of the many financial challenges they face,” said Alexander Bennett, CSU-VBMA Chapter President and Western Regional Leader, and a member of the PVM Class of 2011. “We are trying to create awareness among veterinary students that it’s not just clinical skills that are important, but also management, communications, marketing and a general understanding of business and economics.”
Bennett noted that in surveys and discussions with practicing veterinarians one common thread was the need for improved business skills in veterinary graduates. The VBMA helps to address that need at CSU, as does a business certificate program for veterinary students through the College of Business, the DVM/MBA graduate program, and practice management rotations in the PVM program. VBMA adds to the academic offerings with lectures and seminars, bringing in guest speakers and coordinating panel discussions and other events. CSU students are actively involved in the national chapter as well as the local student chapter. Juliette Hart, PVM Class of 2011, is serving this year as president of the national VBMA, along with Bennett who is a regional leader.
“The national VBMA was established in 2004 and our student chapter was created in 2006,” said Emily Marcus, Vice President of the CSU-VBMA chapter and also a member of the PVM Class of 2011. “Since establishing the chapter at CSU, we’ve attracted 45 members and have an active calendar of events. In January, we attended the VBMA national meeting held in conjunction with the NAVC in Orlando and enjoyed the opportunity to meet with influential people in the veterinary community, connect with veterinary companies, and learn from experts in veterinary practice management as well as finance.”
VBMA reaches out to students going into both large animal and small animal medicine, particularly because their concerns are the same – preparing themselves for a competitive job market, finding a job they love, and earning an income that will allow them to enjoy a good quality of life while servicing student loans that have accumulated during their veterinary academic career.
VBMA is supported nationally and locally by numerous veterinary companies and organizations. These include: Hill’s Pet Nutrition (Founding Flagship Sponsor); Purina, VPI Pet Insurance, Simmons Educational Fund, Bushranger Ingelheim (BI), Live Oak Bank, Novartis, Banfield, Pfizer, Schering-Plough, and SmartStart Practice.
Alexander Bennett - President and Western Regional Leader, Class of 2011
Emily Marcus - Vice President, 2011
Chelsea Zimmerman - Secretary, 2011
Bret Luedke - Treasurer, 2011
Juliette Hart - Sophomore Representative and National VBMA President, 2011
Aya Ushijima - Junior Representative, 2010
Amy Daley - Purina Series Coordinator, 2011
Rebecca Blumberg - Freshman Representative, 2012
Kayla Cochran - Open House Rep, 2012
March 31 -- Dr. Jed Rogers, President of Colorado Veterinary Medical Association and Chief Medical Officer of Firehouse Ventures, LLC, and his partner Greg Waldbaum, Chief Executive Officer of Firehouse, will discuss their practice model at noon in Pathology 101.
April 7 -- Equine Practitioner Panel, time and location to be announced.
April 14 -- Live Oak Bank, Jim Mahan, Vice President of Marketing, will discuss practice financing at noon in Pathology 101. An evening dinner and roundtable discussion is also scheduled, time and location to be announced.
March/April -- Regional (WSU, OSU, UC-Davis, Western U, CSU) canned food drive competition.
VPI-VBMA Student Case Study Competition - Case submissions open now until March 20.
Also in the planning stages is a VetPoint informational session with Dr. Robert Callan, time and date to be announced.
For more information on the VBMA, visit their Web site at www.vbma.biz. For more information on the CSU-VBMA student chapter and activities, send an e-mail Alexander Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Emily Marcus at email@example.com.