Doc Sez - Thoughts about the state of veterinary medicine as a profession.
Rural veterinary practices are in danger of being unsustainable. Not just financially, although the fee schedules in rural areas are generally lower than those of urban/suburban areas, as are average wages and the cost of living, (for both clients and veterinarians and their staff) but also because veterinarians are beginning to see that the quality of life created by the old practice model (24/7 availability, solo, privately owned) is not possible without a spouse/life partner who can handle EVERYTHING else. (I reiterate, EVERYTHING). To entice a veterinarian to come to a rural practice now requires a multi-vet staff to share emergency/on-call (or easy access to emergency clinics), a job market that will employ the spouse/life partner (or a very deep dating pool), mentoring, and modern facilities with inhouse availability of equipment, like labs, digital x-ray services, veterinary technicians, and safe and well thought out large animal facilities, as well as a wage that will allow debt service for the new (up to 10 years out) graduate. Nice people, good schools, and access to healthcare, and leisure time activities are also on prospective veterinarian’s minds when considering where to accept a job. Childcare is a very real concern for veterinarians looking for a practice home, because most new grads in the last 10 years are women. Red Barn Veterinary Service has invested a lot
of time, thought and finances into trying to “future-proof” our practice.
As you think about practices in southeast Kansas, consider how many are owned by vets that graduated in 1985 or earlier. Those folks are not going to practice forever and the veterinarian who can take off down the road in his truck and make a living making farm calls is an extinct species. It will not cash-flow. (They cannot afford financially to do so, and if they raise prices enough to do so, producers cannot afford to pay those prices). Veterinarian-owners must be businesspeople. General practice veterinary medicine, the first line of care for most food animals and companion pets, is not supported by taxes, mill levies, grants, or donations. It is currently, especially in rural areas, funded by individual owner investment, like any other small business and requires a significant financial investment to equip and maintain the facility, inventory, and staff.
Yet, RBVS believes that our rural citizens deserve veterinary care that is, at least, on a par with the care available in urban/suburban areas. To that end, we maintain referral relationships with specialty practices, labs, and imaging consultants, just like our human medical colleagues. We offer a well-stocked inhouse pharmacy for when your animal cannot wait for a prescription to ship, as well as an online pharmaceutical purchasing store. We employ 5 licensed veterinarians, 2 registered veterinary technicians, and numerous office professionals, large animal assistants and companion animal assistants, to provide emergency care while still allowing our associates and team members a reasonable quality of life. We invest in facilities and equipment, large and companion animal, constantly.
Red Barn Veterinary Service LLC plans to be here in rural America as the veterinary profession continues to change and evolve and has invested to make it possible. Show some kindness to your local veterinary practices, wherever they are. They make your entire community a better place to live.