Centre for Continuing Education: How is the market for veterinary medicine currently developing?
Dr Thorsten Arnold: In general, you have to distinguish between farm animal practice and small animal practice. These are two fundamentally different areas that are even developing in contrast to each other. While small animal practice is experiencing an upward trend due to more small animals being kept, such as dogs and cats, especially in corona times, in farm animal practice there is a death of smaller farms and a concentration on a few large farms that expect professional care with a high level of specialised knowledge from the attending veterinarian. In addition, farm animal husbandry is under enormous social pressure, which is not always justified.
Centre for Continuing Education: What challenges do veterinary practices/clinics face at present and in the future?
Dr Thorsten Arnold: "The challenge is the following: How do I, as the owner of a veterinary practice or operator of a clinic, manage to meet the legally required requirements, such as the Working Hours Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Basic Data Protection Ordinance, the Medicines Act and the excessive bureaucracy, and at the same time still earn an entrepreneur's salary? Especially in the last five years, this has become increasingly difficult. It is understandable that fewer and fewer young people dare to become self-employed and that the legal requirements are only feasible at all in large units, such as hospital groups and large group practices.
In addition, there is a serious shortage of staff. It has never been so difficult to find a veterinarian (m/f/d) for a practice or clinic. There is a wide range of jobs for veterinarians in offices and authorities. These jobs offer attractive working hours, no economic pressure and a sufficient salary, so it's hard to set yourself up as an attractive employer against that."
Centre for Continuing Education: What success factors characterise veterinary practices/clinics at present and in the future?
Dr Thorsten Arnold: "A tight organisation of the practice or clinic with practice managers and quality managers who improve or optimise processes. A type of "lean management" adapted to veterinary medicine will be decisive for the future. Those who do not have this or have not thought about it will not be part of the future. This also includes building a brand and a positive external image to be able to attract staff."
Centre for Continuing Education: What skills are required to run a veterinary practice/clinic?
Dr. Thorsten Arnold: "They must be professionally competent and up to date with the latest scientific findings in order to be able to set the direction in which their practice or clinic should develop and at the same time they must be entrepreneurs in order to be able to survive in the market. In this context, business knowledge about balance sheets, key figures, cost centres, etc. is indispensable. The balancing act between specialist knowledge and business management knowledge is enormous, and then there is the issue of excessive bureaucracy. If the veterinary management is not supported by practice managers and quality managers, it cannot be managed in the long run. Since you can no longer be up to date in all areas."
Centre for Continuing Education: What opportunities do veterinarians and senior staff have to acquire the necessary skills? What opportunities do veterinarians and senior staff have to acquire the necessary skills?
Dr. Thorsten Arnold: "If you look beyond veterinary medicine, you will find individual offers in the areas of business administration, personnel management, data protection, etc.". I myself used the time during my doctorate to complete a "narrow-track course" in business administration by distance learning. This gave me knowledge that I never received in my veterinary studies and which helped me enormously in my self-employment. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any comprehensive further education that specifically focused on the business needs and requirements of a veterinary practice or clinic."
For more information and to register for the information evening or course start of the in-service training programme "Management of the veterinary practice/clinic", click here.