Posted on 05/01/2021 at 12:00 AM by Drs. L. Welborn, Dr. S. Loepp and S. Curvey
As the world’s largest organization of veterinary practice management study groups, the Veterinary Management Groups (VMG) currently help more than 1100 veterinarians that own and lead over 1600 practices throughout the US and Canada achieve new levels of success and an enhanced quality of life.
Veterinary Study Groups (VSG), the company that develops and supports the VMG groups, provides a wide array of services to VMG members, designed to optimize their respective ownership experience. VMG groups provide a safe space to create opportunities for collaboration and kinship that have proven so essential in these challenging times. Steve Curvey, VSG President, is inspired by the way VMG members have navigated one of the biggest challenges of their careers: the COVID pandemic.
“For more than 35 years, VMG members have helped one another overcome challenges and embrace opportunities related to practice ownership. At this critical time of the pandemic, VMG members are stepping up to support one another yet again, applying learnings, insights and best practices that make their journey less stressful and more successful. Leadership can be a key differentiator during times of organizational stress. The decisions that practice owners make now will shape the long-term success of their practices”, said Curvey.
Veterinary Management Groups are made up of about 20 non-competing veterinarians from similar practice types that are geographically dispersed, so members can feel comfortable sharing their best ideas related to leading a veterinary practice through the pandemic as well as other challenges and opportunities. They offer each other encouragement, strength and fresh perspectives.
VMGs are typically led by facilitators, who are current or former successful practice owners or industry experts who inherently understand the members’ challenges. Facilitators serve as coaches and mentors who ask difficult questions to motivate high-impact decisions, frame issues to inspire robust discussions and critical thinking, help members drive their businesses forward, and foster collaboration to help members map out action plans.
“VMGs provide practice leaders an opportunity to grow through contextualized learning. Experiences through participation enable members to grow as leaders and managers” said Curvey.
Perhaps most importantly, peer study groups also provide their veterinary members with the opportunity to carve out time and space away from the practice to reflect, acquire new knowledge, and focus on strategy. Providing care to patients while maintaining a team culture throughout a global pandemic is a major stressor, and it’s critical for leaders to pause and regroup, even if only briefly. VMG meetings are an opportunity for veterinary business owners to do just that.
“COVID-19brought disruption and caused unprecedented challenges for veterinary practice owners, but it has also inspired innovation” says Link Welborn, DVM, DABVP, VSG CEO.
“Many practices, including my own, launched telehealth, started curbside services, and ramped up home delivery and other programs during the pandemic that would not otherwise have been done or at least not as quickly. Projects that could have taken months were implemented in weeks. I know many non-VMG practices did the same, but in the case of the VMG members, it was certainly easier because each VMG group was brainstorming and exchanging information on how members were doing it in their own practices, so VMG members didn’t feel alone in the fight to adapt and they benefited from each other's experiences. There is no greater opportunity than to learn from other owners of progressive practices that are in the trenches leading.
”Dr. Welborn is no stranger to veterinary innovation and adaptability. As a co-founder of VSG, he’s witnessed firsthand how VMG membership has enabled thousands of veterinary practice owners to take their practices to the next level.
“I joined VMG and found the support to supercharge the growth of my business while discovering more balance in my personal life. With my group’s support, I was able to take the business to new levels,” recalled Dr. Loepp, owner of a successful Oregon veterinary practice and current VSG Director of Group Development.
He credits VMG with helping him realize the goal of effective veterinary leadership: to improve day after day and never be comfortable with the status quo. VMG can help spark that curiosity for change.
Teamwork, clinical excellence, values, and culture are elements that remain top-of-mind for Dr. Loepp and for a lot of VMG members in today’s environment, especially with the added pressure on veterinary team members.
“Veterinary business owners like me can drive culture by rallying employees around a common purpose and treating teams with respect, even during difficult times,” Dr. Loepp said. “After all, we share a common goal of offering the best possible care for ourpatients. One has to be wise with their team members, as many people working in the veterinary industry are more introverted and sometimes more sensible than the average population. My VMG peers helped me be a better leader to my team.”
“I am inspired by the resilience of our VMG members and the veterinary community as a whole” said Curvey. “Through this pandemic, I’ve been amazed to hear the stories of veterinary members that went above and beyond to continue offering their services to their community. Their practice, patients, clients, and people are too important to them. Veterinarians really are heroes.”