AUTHOR: Peter Alberti
Our trip to the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) conference in Orlando last week was incredibly gratifying. It’s no secret that the veterinary industry as a whole is in the midst of a transformation, and not all of those changes favor the business – or practice – of animal medicine. Yet, through a period that could rightfully be characterized by many as “difficult at best”, the overall sentiment by everyone I met was upbeat and optimistic. That was a pleasant surprise, to say the least!
Nearly everyone – from doctors, techs and office staff to vendors and service providers – agreed that things have become more difficult for veterinary professionals over the last few years. For example:
Certain revenue streams have been materially reduced (or in many cases obliterated) from top lines. In an industry where it was common to reduce fees and even give away services when appropriate, such concessions have become completely impossible for many. For caregivers who enter the profession because of an unwavering love for animals, this is a tough nut to swallow.
Technology advances, although a fantastic enabler for medicine, have created pressures on practices to acquire more skills, equipment and resources in order to remain competitive. Those who cannot (or will not) advance with the rest are more and more disadvantaged. The new technologies are great and the intentions in using them well meaning, but the holistic impact is not always favorable.
The overall reputation of practitioners as a whole is, in some places, at severe risk as more pet owners increasingly vent frustrations in their social media circles and turn to Dr. Google for “facts” about their fur babies’ conditions. “My vet doesn’t care about my pet; only about money” is unfairly uttered far too often and inappropriately. The taint of that ill-conceived sentiment unfortunately spreads far too wide.
These and other factors tend to result in significant distractions from the fundamental job at hand: Care for pets and clients in the best possible way.
How the NAVC Crowd Saw This
Although very few people disagreed that there are challenges, nearly everyone maintained a supportive, optimistic outlook. “What Moves You?” was the theme of the conference, and it was abundantly clear that everyone there was motivated to support the industry as a whole, and each other as individual people and practices.
Almost every conversation I had with exhibitors (and others) had the same theme: “We just gotta be there for the vets!” Numerous terms were used to characterize the sentiment: “Boost the industry”, “Support the vets”, “Enable the practices”, etc. But they all said pretty much the same thing – that the noble profession of veterinary medicine is important and well-deserving of material support to keep it alive and thriving.
How cool is THAT? It’s very gratifying to be in an industry full of people who care!
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