why it will work*

When I tell people that I’m a new graduate starting a new practice, I get responses ranging from abject horror to unadulterated excitement and support.  I understand the former response; practice ownership and being a solo practitioner were definitely was not in my plan for my first three months out of school. First three years, if I was lucky.

But I’m not a dummy. I’ve put a ton of research, a ton of thought, and ton of advice-asking into it. And I think it will work for a few simple reasons:

1. I have reasonable expectations. I fully expect the first 6-12 months to be very difficult, from me learning how to be a vet, a practice owner, a financial manager, etc. I know the learning curve is a vertical line. I don’t expect that business will be booming and money will be free-flowing right off the bat.  I fully expect to have to work my ass off.  If I’m slightly wrong about any of these things, then that will be great. If I’m right, that will be okay too.

2. My cost of living is extremely low.  If I don’t get to bring home a paycheck for six months, maybe even longer, it will be okay. This is because I live in Iowa, I qualify for income-based repayment plans on my school loans, and I have a husband with a reliable income and a total willingness to help me make this work.  We rent our home cheaply, our cars are paid off, I have pet food stockpiled from the days I got it for free during vet school, and we generally aren’t very extravagant about life.

3. The situation that I have entered into is quite unique, and is letting me start a business with the purchase of real estate for a relatively very low sum.  I have kept my opening expenses as low as reasonably possible: I gave up plans to build an extra exam room, equipment that isn’t essential to practicing good medicine is going on my “list of things to buy when you turn a profit”, and I cut corners wherever reasonable. (not reasonable: good monitoring equipment, good insurance, practice management software).

4. My bank and the town believe in me.  Even with low start-up expenses, the bank really bent over backwards to set up my loans.  In addition to the bank, I procured two lower-interest loans from local economic development groups that were basically unsecured.  The support has been fantastic.

These are the things I keep in mind when I start to feel overwhelmed. I really hope I’m right.

*I think


4 thoughts on “why it will work*

  1. Life in Vet School

    This is TOTALLY going to work. You’re going to be fabulously successful — your clients will love you, word will spread quickly, you already know there’s demand, you’ll get to practice good medicine in a location that you like, you get to make all the important decision yourself but you have backup and mentoring available if you need them, and you went into this with very realistic expectations and a good plan. You’re going to be awesome!!! This is so freaking exciting — I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  2. Holly

    I think you will find it works FAR better than you expect. Four years ago, my small animal vet moved into town. I decided I would give him a whirl with a few well-animal yearly visits and have never left. He is so busy he has had to close his practice to new clients.

    Here is why….(I think)

    1. he’s a good vet. Really and truly a good practioner.

    2. he takes excellent care of all aspects of my experience when I need to see him….from keeping his/my costs down to seeing me in an emergency to trusting me to pick up meds vs seeing him for an office call every time. Example: we have a new (and totally adorable) little baby kitten. We found her at the barn, tiny/cold/alone/starving, so we brought her home on a Friday evening after the office had closed. The next working day, I called for an appointment and got in that day (bonus point 1). The visit was reasonable in price (office call/wormer/flea med) and it happened quickly….I didn’t have to wait a week to see him. This kitten needed to be seen by a vet quickly. He compromised on the amount of flea meds available to such a tiny sprite (bonus point 2…he didn’t decline totally). He did a through and complete exam on her while she was there (something I always appreciate). She had very loose stools and I waited 3 days to make sure the worm meds had cleared, then forgot to call so it was Saturday that I called with this concern. The receptionist asked if I needed an appointment or if I just wanted to pick up meds. It was a Saturday and they were closing in 3 hours as Saturday is a partial day for the clinic. I thought we could try the meds for a few days and if it did not clear, then bring her back in. The doc was fine with that and prescribed me some meds which saved me an office call. He trusts me that I *will* bring the kitten back if it does not clear over the weekend. That’s taking good care of me, and my pocketbook. That makes me want to come back again.

    3. he carefully listens to me when I tell him things about whatever animal I have in there. AND HE BELIEVES ME. I am sure, this is at least partially because I have never lied and that helps to build trust but I sometimes contrast this to another vet I had a long history with that decided to quit listening and believing me when I talked to her. I never lied to her either and toward the end I was left say “?” to the way I was treated.

    4. He is local, easy to get to and a kind man. Kindess to me and my animals is important to me. I need a good practioner but when I had to euth a septic, week old puppy I was devastated and he was incredibly kind to me about it. I will never forget that and I will be forever grateful to him for explaining what to expect when my 13 year old Corgi was euthed. Kindess matters.

    Being a good doctor is essential, keeping costs down will keep your clients coming back and being kind will make them sing your praises.

    Since you have all of those traits, you will do fine.

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