It is not uncommon in our industry for veterinary technicians to consider transitioning into practice management roles. Not only do technicians have medical knowledge but they also handle a lot of the education, training and communication aspects of the day-to-day work in clinic.
Sometimes, technicians work on building the schedule, and doing the ordering and keeping track of inventory so they are familiar with aspects of running a veterinary business. Based on this diverse skill set, transitioning into a veterinary practice management (PM) role may seem like a natural next step...but what are some questions to ask yourself before making the switch?
1. Are you okay leaving clinical work?
Leaving the duties of patient care behind can be difficult, but it is necessary to do so if you are moving into a PM role. It is difficult, if not impossible, to be 100% dedicated to different types of work. It is important to be fully focused on your new role in order to be successful. Will you be happy doing mostly office work instead of working hands-on with the pets? This is one very important question to ask yourself before making the switch.
2. Do you understand and enjoy business topics?
Business is a diverse field. According to one article in Today’s Veterinary Business, “areas that the practice manager governs could include human resources, finance, marketing, law and ethics, operations, technology, facility maintenance and client services.” (3) Many of these topics can be taught and learned with diligence, while other, softer skills such as human resources management, take experience to develop. So the question to ask yourself is, are you interested in learning and believe you’ll enjoy these topics that you'll be using daily?
3. Do you really like working with people?
It’s not uncommon for people to go into veterinary medicine because they like working with animals more than people. However, the reality is that we work with people a lot in our profession. And as a practice manager, the amount of time you will spend working directly with people will only increase. Human resources is a large portion of the role. Managing client expectations will also be part of your new job. Additionally, colleagues will look to you for leadership, guidance and conflict resolution.
In a Veterinary Practice News article, there is a discussion about a leadership book by Seth Godin called, “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us” and it examines the Leader vs Follower mentality. The article states, “A tribe is a group of people who are connected to one another, a leader and an idea. Every tribe needs leadership, and you can’t be a leader without a tribe. Your hospital is your tribe — do you want to be a leader or a follower?” (2)
This is perhaps the most important question to ask yourself as this role will undoubtedly require strong developing strong interpersonal and supervisory skills. Make sure this is something you will be okay with before jumping in!
There are so many success stories of vet techs that are happy in PM roles. But if you're still wondering what other considerations you should think about before switching, check out this DVM360 article: Making the transition from technician to manager to read some more food for thought. (1)
- Mallonee, Marianne. “Making the transition from technician to manager.” DVM360.
- Mimica, Tanja. “Am I cut out to be a vet practice manager?” Veterinary Practice News.
- Suiter, Abby. “Plot a career path in practice management.” Today’s Veterinary Business.