Framework for career progression… - Veterinary Practice
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Framework for career progression…

GARETH CROSS continues his series on the different types of practice operating in the country by handing over this month’s column to a group which claims to be the ‘UK’s fastest growing’

OUR veterinary careers have been the focus of most of this year’s Cross-words columns.

I have looked at the different forms this may take and have had contributions from all the major practice types. First we heard from what is viewed as the traditional model of private practice, i.e. one or a few premises owned in a local area by one or a handful of people.

We heard from Vets4Pets/ Companion Care with their model of joint venturing, and they responded to some of the criticisms levelled at them by private practitioners.

Then it was the turn of Medivet with its hub-and-spoke and branch partner model, very different from JVPs and practices wholly-owned by a corporate.

That brings us to the last category, the “corporate”. By this we usually mean a large company that wholly owns many practices over a wide geographic area and no one employed in the clinical staff owns any part of the business. Currently, about 15% of practices in the UK are owned by a corporate.

An advert for one of the corporates caught my eye as it was promoting its career pathway. So I hand over the remainder of the column to Independent Vetcare…

The IVC way

Working for a “corporate” is only ever going to be as a low grade vet on a low salary with no prospects for career progression. Right? Wrong, completely wrong!

Independent Vetcare employs vets at all levels from new graduates in our academy programme to senior vets to some of the finest referral specialists in the UK. What’s more, we provide a framework for progression throughout this career structure such that you do not need to leave our employment to get on.

If your career aspiration is to combine management skills with your clinical excellence, we can cater for this in one of our practices nationwide. As the group grows we also have opportunities to progress a career in purely support or managerial roles.

The culture of our organisation is based around local leadership. We prefer local vets and the practice teams to develop the business to meet local needs. Before joining the group, these practices have built up a local brand and reputation – something we are committed to keep in place.

The business model we have allows this freedom whilst providing specialist functional support in areas such as marketing, finance, HR and IT. The vets and local teams can then do what they do best – deliver an outstanding clinical service to their clients.

Local leadership is key to our success. Practice owners who choose to join Independent Vetcare (we now have over 170 practices) typically become the clinical director for the practice.

This gives stability for the whole local team, it supports our belief in local leadership and crucially it gives the vendor the opportunity to access the career progression and CPD opportunities we offer. It is by no means the end of their career – just the start of the next phase.

Working in this environment allows support networks to grow – both formal and informal. We have group meetings for marketing initiatives, our practice managers get together and other like-minded groups meet to help solve the issues that many practices face.

You also build up a network of colleagues at different levels who can help you. A problem shared is a problem halved – we have the network to share and share again.

The well-being of our vets is also important to us. We can provide formal one-to-one support as required from a variety of sources. All designed to support individuals at different stages in their career with us.

Funded clinical CPD is an essential strand to managing career progression and skills development. We provide CPD both externally and internally using the strength of our resources – tailored to meet the needs of the individual. We also run an internal leadership programme to develop the management skills and competencies that go with developing careers in this direction.

We believe very strongly that developing and investing in our people at every stage of their career is vital not just to the individual but to the longterm success of our business. We are delighted when vets within IVC move internally into roles with greater responsibility or become clinical directors or move to a different practice within the group.

We also recognise that progression does not have to mean promotion. We are happy to work with vets who are happy in their roles without feeling under pressure to try something new they are not comfortable with. For these employees, having the chance to keep their clinical skills up to date, to perform at their best, to be rewarded and to achieve high levels of personal job satisfaction is the focus.

The demographics of the industry are such that during the career of many vets there might be periods of time when part-time working or other flexible working arrangements are needed.

We see this as a natural part of managing a long-term career and we work with individuals to try and meet their needs in this respect.

Career progression in the corporate business model also provides high levels of reward. Both in financial terms (competitive salaries linked to experience as well as the local market, profit sharing, commission opportunities and other benefits) but also job and personal satisfaction – all without the risks and stresses associated with some of the other business models in the industry.

Roles and career progression are not confined to one practice or a particular local area. We have the ability to support people to relocate within the group for their next career move or if their personal circumstances change. This “people centric” focus certainly seems to resonate with vets: we’re now the UK’s fastest growing veterinary group and affectionately known as the “non-corporate” corporate.

You might have seen the info@ strapline recently. What we really offer is an amazing career opportunity, not just an amazing job.

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