Throughout my 20+ years of managing, owning, and consulting veterinary practices, I’ve watched the number of females in the industry rise, and now more women than ever before are working as veterinarians, technicians, and practice managers.
I argue that more of these women should consider practice ownership.
I know it’s scary—I’ve been there. And, when I began my practice ownership journey, I shared many of the same fears and concerns you have. Would I be able to balance my personal and professional lives? Did I have the necessary business knowledge and leadership skills? Could I afford it?
Over the past month, I’ve focused on empowering women to become veterinary practice owners. Today, I’m beginning a series of Q-and-A blog posts with female practice owners. These inspiring (and brutally honest!) women will describe the best and worst parts of practice ownership, share their hopes and dreams for the future, and show you that becoming a practice owner is possible for any female veterinary professional who wants it badly enough.
Jen Weston, CVT, LVT
Name: Jen Weston, CVT, LVT
Title: Practice Manager/Co-owner
Practice: Northfield Veterinary Hospital (Denver, Colorado)
Years in industry: 18+ years
Became a practice owner: 2015
Partner/Co-owner: Shelly Sandel, DVM
Furry family: Constantly fostering animals, but no permanent pets
Human family: Single mom to “one very sassy 3 year old”
Why did you decide that you wanted to be a practice owner?
I’ve always wanted to own a small business. I have the entrepreneurial spirit. After working as a technician for many years, I realized our working conditions could be improved. I had a dream to create an environment where “techs can come to die.” Ha! It would be a place where technicians could have a great work environment, great pay/benefits, and be valued for the hard work and training that we put into this field.
How did you make ownership a reality?
By partnering with a veterinarian I had been working with for a few years, we were able to mitigate the financial burden on both of us.
What’s your favorite part about owning a veterinary hospital?
I love my team! They are like family to me. I also have the benefit of making my own schedule. As a single mom to a toddler, that’s a must!
What’s your least favorite part about owning a veterinary hospital?
The financial part is hard. As owners, we are often the last to be paid. I accumulated a decent amount of debt that I look forward to paying off in the years to come.
Tell me about a day when you regretted buying your practice.
I haven’t yet. I know that HR is probably the biggest challenge for most practice owners, but I’m fortunate to have a staff that I’ve known for years.
What’s a common reaction you get after telling someone you own a veterinary hospital?
People always ask me about their pet’s medical conditions.
As a practice owner, how do you balance your personal and professional lives?
What is a personal life?
What would you tell a female veterinary student, veterinary technician, or veterinary practice manager if she asked you for tips on how to become a practice owner?
Protect your credit at all costs! Really hone your management skills. Vets who own practices are often horrible managers. It’s not a skill taught in veterinary school. Also, being an owner takes a lot of self reflection. Sometimes it’s hard to admit when you are the problem.
Where would someone find you on a typical Friday night?
At home sleeping…ha!
What are you most afraid of?
Being told that I’m bad at anything that I’m passionate about.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
I hope to open a boarding/daycare/grooming facility.
Thank you for sharing your story, Jen!
Are you a female veterinary practice owner who’d like to be featured in my Female Veterinary Practice Ownership Series? Contact me! I’d love to hear your story and use it to inspire others to follow in your footsteps.