Careers/Practice Building

The Business of Veterinary Medicine

It’s safe to say that most veterinarians don’t pursue their career paths because they want to handle the responsibilities and duties associated with running a practice; most veterinarians are veterinarians because they enjoy science and love caring for animals. Reality is, however, there are a number of business-related skills required to operate a successful veterinary practice and excel in most other career paths in the field of veterinary medicine. To help MSU CVM graduates not only be prepared to handle the business side of their careers, but to excel in them, MSU CVM offers CVM 5692—Veterinary Medicine: The Art of Practice and Business Management. This two-week, elective course for third- and fourth-year DVM students is led by Assistant Dean for Clinical Services and Animal Health Center Director Dr. Joey Burt and is designed specifically to teach new graduates to be comfortable handling subjects outside of the academics and science of veterinary medicine.

A lecturer speaks to veterinary business management class

Multiple studies conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges have illustrated the need for non-technical skills to be taught in vet school, as future employers of newly graduated veterinarians expect them to have these skills. This course is one component of an overall effort to ensure MSU CVM graduates enter the profession as ‘day-one-ready’ practitioners. Additional research has also shown that graduates with a higher business acumen have higher starting salaries, are more satisfied with their jobs and have better control over their long-term debt. A veterinary student studies outside
Topics addressed in the course cover everything from employment economics, communications and profitable pricing to inventory control, contract negotiation and conflict management. Class assignments include preparing a budget, creating a resume and cover letter and evaluating a job contract. These are just a few of the many skills graduates need to have command of outside of the realm of actual patient care, and our goal through this course is to help MSU CVM graduates have the skills they need to successfully navigate the transition from training to be a veterinarian to actually practicing as a veterinarian.

The course features speakers with diverse backgrounds from several different companies and organizations, providing a variety of approaches and perspectives for students. According to Mark Opperman with Veterinary Management Consultation, Inc., who presents a lecture addressing veterinary business management and client perception of value to the class each year, a number of veterinary colleges offer a business course; however, MSU CVM’s class is very comprehensive and practical. Dr. Eric Linn, who works for Nutramax Laboratories, and is another of the class’s regular presenters, said the class is a vital part of ensuring successful entry into ‘the real world.’ The segment he presents covers alternative career paths in veterinary medicine, which is an important consideration, not only because there are a wealth of opportunities in the field outside of traditional practice, but also because very few people stay in the exact same job for their entire career. It’s important for graduates to know what their options are so they can pursue the type role that is the best fit.

The College would not be able to offer this caliber course without the support of sponsors such as Nutramax Laboratories, Purina, Zoetis, CareCredit, AVMA and numerous others and is very grateful for their assistance helping defer the expense of providing it.

Annual Career Expo Connects Grads and Employers

In the fall of 2019, MSU CVM hosted its first career expo, providing MSU CVM Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and veterinary medical technology students the opportunity to connect with potential employers from across the country. The Expo was a huge success and is now set to become an annual event each fall.

Students engage with a potential employer at a career fairAs a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’ Expo will be held in virtual format. The event is slated for Friday, October 16. Exhibitor registration is now open!  Mississippi State University CVM Career Expo Registration

Please direct general Expo questions to either Dr. Joey Burt- burt@cvm.msstate.edu; 662-325-1484 or Julie Burt- jburt@cvm.mstate.edu; 662-325-7016. Technical support for Career Center sign-up should be directed to Jan Fitzgerald- jfitzgerald@career.msstate.edu.

Expo exhibitors in 2019 represented 11 different states from across the country, as well as corporate entities also offering positions in numerous other states. Representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture were also on site to recruit students. Feedback from students participating in the event indicated they found it a worthwhile experience, with MSU CVM then fourth-year student Jalin Myrick commenting, “I had never been to a career fair before, so I really didn’t know what to expect; however, I had a lot of fun and took advantage of the chance to practice my interview skills. As it turned out, I not only secured an externship opportunity from attending, but I also met my future employer! You really just never know who you might meet at an event like this or the opportunities it might provide at present or even down the road!”

A student engages with a job recruiterIn addition to the opportunities presented to MSU CVM students, last year’s event also included resources for the vendors and employers in attendance, along with complimentary lunch and an MSU CVM swag bag. Participating practices and organizations were invited to attend a special CE event sponsored by Merck Animal Health prior to the exhibits opening, where Dr. Taylor Tillery, a professional services veterinarian with Merck, addressed attracting, training and motivating staff members. Dr. Tillery provided a wealth of beneficial information related to not only salaries and schedules but also fringe benefits that is helpful to those seeking to hire new and recent graduates in the veterinary field.

The 2020 Career Expo will  be held in virtual format to protect the health and well-being of all participating; however, it will feature a similar line up of vendors. If you’re an MSU CVM student actively searching for a job, a veterinarian in private practice looking to expand your staff, or if you’re working with an organization seeking new veterinary graduates, mark your calendar and plan to attend!