Many practice owners do not understand the key role of the practice manager, regardless of the size of the practice, and how this very important member of the team can take the practice to a new level, helping it not only to survive, but also to flourish. And a practice manager is one of the most important ingredients for burnout prevention.

Typically, practice owners are veterinarians (some states allow non-veterinarians to own veterinary practices). These doctors are highly trained in the delivery of veterinary medicine and surgery—and, many times, only superficially trained in areas of business management, such as human resources, accounting, inventory control, and marketing. Being able to leverage a veterinarian’s time is the foundation of today's successful veterinary practice. Veterinary hospitals exist due to revenue generated in providing veterinary services. Each moment a veterinarian is doing anything but providing veterinary services is a moment of lost revenue.

Understanding how a practice manager fits into a veterinary practice is quite a challenge for most owners. By nature, veterinarians have a need to be in control—of all things, at all times. However, practice owners need to recognize their training is in communicating with clients and providing veterinary medicine and surgery, not in business.

Luckily, there exists a group of individuals highly trained in all areas of practice management. Certified through the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA), certified veterinary practice managers (CVPMs) undergo a rigorous credentialing and examination process and are essential to allowing veterinarians to do what they do best: treat patients.

Bringing a CVPM to your team is a win for the client, since the veterinarian has more time to focus on the patient; a win for the team, since the CVPM has more time to focus on operations; and a win for the hospital, through implementation of solid business practices and increased revenue as a result of more productive doctor time.

At Wellington Veterinary Hospital, we have an incredible CVPM: Connie Croak. With her at the helm, I am free to do what I love to and that is to be a doctor. Yes, I am still a business owner and, as such, am involved in my practice’s strategy and culture setting, but day-to-day operations are Connie's responsibility. Our management team meets weekly; after those meetings, Connie goes her way with goals and a vision, and I go my way to focus on being the best doctor I can be for every patient, every time. Our revenue continues to grow, our expenses are down, and our culture is consistent. Plus I'm not burning out!

I encourage any owner currently without a practice manager to seriously consider this investment. And for those who do have a manager, check out the VHMA website. Be sure you understand the role of this important team member so you and your manager can leverage one another for the greater good of your patients, your clients, and your hospital.

For more information on the role of a CVPM, go to


Tracey Jensen, DVM, DABVP (C/F), CVA, is AAHA’s president for 2014–2015. She owns Wellington Veterinary Hospital in Wellington, Colo., winner of the 2012 AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year Award. 

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