Dog licking veterinarian's face
Foundations of Veterinary Business

Foundations of Veterinary Business

Business Fundamentals Certificate

Flexible Program Design

  • Presented by UC Davis Graduate School of Management faculty and veterinary industry experts.
  • Online and virtual learning.
  • Three live Zoom Saturday sessions to reinforce learning and encourage collaboration.
  •  Webinars offered for additional support.
  • Analysis of real-world veterinary business scenarios.

"This program is an excellent investment for doctors considering practice ownership, as well as current practice owners and other practice leaders who want to take their business understanding to the next level."
– Dean H. Rao Unnava, Graduate School of Management

Accounting

  • Understand double entry (debits and credits) accounting and the Accounting Equation.
  • Be able to identify the different types of transactions and how they are reported. 
  • Differentiate between the accounts and the nature of those accounts and how transactions are summarized into financial statements.
  • Learn the fundamental accounting concepts that ensure to comparability and consistency of how different businesses report their activity.

Finance

  • Understand the time value of money and its application in personal and business finance.
  • Be able to estimate free cash flows in projects and company valuations.
  • Differentiate between fundamental (discounted cash flows) and relative valuation processes.
  • Learn the concepts of cost of equity, cost of debt and the cost of capital and apply them to value projects and companies.

Marketing

There are four fundamental learning objectives for this module. First, you will understand how to analyze the marketing environment – the consumers, the competition, the channels of distribution, the controls and regulations, and the internal constraints of an organization. It is within this environmental context that most marketing activities occur. Second, you will understand tools you have available as a marketer to adapt to the environment you are in. Third, you will understand how the tools interact with each other – i.e., how your pricing decision affects (and is affected by) the features you want to include in your product. Finally, you will learn how to integrate the elements of your marketing strategy you have designed for your product.

Strategy and Human Resources

The objective of this course is to help you develop skills to analyze and address issues of firm performance and how managers affect it through strategy. As part of your skill development, you will learn strategic analysis tools, including models and frameworks to help you diagnose organizational issues and make recommendations to improve or sustain performance. Some of the work required for this course is independent and some will be performed in groups. Because top managers must typically coordinate and integrate their activities and strategies as part of a top management team, the ability to work in teams is a critical part of their work. By the end of the course, we expect that you will be more knowledgeable about the sources of superior firm performance.

Overview (Sample)

MAY 15–JUN 18 JUN 19 JUN 19–JUL 16 JUL 17 JUL 17–AUG 14 AUG 14
Online Coursework Live Zoom Session Online Coursework Live Zoom Session Online Coursework Live Zoom Session

Accounting

Finance

Marketing

Strategy & HR

Marketing

Strategy & HR

Marketing

Strategy & HR

Capstone Project Overview

Capstone Preparation with Small Groups

Capstone Project Presentations

Discussion: Current Veterinary Business Issues & Closing Remarks

Speakers

Robin Brogdon

Topics Covered: Live Zoom Session Marketing

Robin Brogdon received her Bachelor of Arts degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan and her Master of Arts degree in organizational communication and marketing from Eastern Michigan University. For the past 25-plus years, she has applied that knowledge through her work in business administration and marketing for a Big Ten university athletic department, a professional sports franchise, and a fast-growing media company, as well as a variety of management consulting engagements and leadership roles in specialty veterinary practices.

Brogdon has successfully taken companies through start-up, acquisition, and divestiture, with oversight and management of all aspects of the process. She has coordinated many building and relocation projects spanning multiple offices and cities, including the construction and opening of City of Angels Veterinary Specialty Center, a 30,000-square-foot comprehensive specialty hospital in Los Angeles where she served as the Executive Director.

In 2007, Brogdon launched BluePrints Veterinary Marketing Group, Inc., a full-service marketing agency exclusively devoted to serving specialty, emergency and referral practices and other businesses within the animal healthcare space. BluePrints’ primary purpose is to help more companion animals and their families by advancing the reach of veterinary specialty medicine and encouraging the partnership between primary care veterinarians and specialists. To further this goal, in 2012 Brogdon launched the Veterinary Specialists Outreach & Awareness Project (VetSOAP), a non-profit initiative aimed at demonstrating the benefits of collaborative care to all members of the profession.

A frequent lecturer, Brogdon has presented at ACVIM, VSIPP, AAHA, NAVC, and AVMA. She regularly contributes to industry trade publications and published 101 Veterinary Marketing Questions Answered, available through AAHA Press. Active in the profession, Robin is a member of VetPartners, previously serving as Chair of the Communications Committee, is a member of the Practice Management Committee for IVECCS. Robin also served six years on the Board of Directors of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation and in 2016 was presented with the Distinguished Service Award. She was the first non-veterinarian to hold this position and earn this distinction.

Raised in suburban Baltimore, Brogdon relocated to southern California more than 25 years ago. She and her husband reside in Huntington Beach with their rescued, mixed-breed dogs. In her free time, you can usually find them at the beach or hiking the red rock canyons of southern Utah.

Jim Clark

Project Lead and Faculty Director, Economic Overview of Vet Industry

Dr. Jim Clark is an entrepreneur, multi-practice owner, consultant, and professor with more than 30 years of experience in veterinary practice.  He received his veterinary degree from U.C. Davis in 1988, earning the Hill’s Small Animal Clinical Competency award as a Senior. During his first five years in practice, Clark worked in several large, multi-doctor general practices in Napa and San Diego.  He developed a passion for emergency and critical medicine and practiced exclusively in this area for 20 years. In 1993, Clark co-founded the Pet Emergency & Specialty Center in San Diego. While growing this practice, he also worked as an adjunct professor at San Diego Mesa College for five years, teaching in an RVT training program. In 1998, Clark co-founded his second practice, the Pet Emergency & Specialty Center of Marin in San Rafael.  In 2002, he completed a two-year MBA program at the San Diego State College of Business Administration, graduating as valedictorian. 

After relocating his family to the Bay Area in 2002, Clark completed a one-year fellowship in emergency and critical care medicine at U.C. Davis. He and his partners acquired two additional emergency/specialty practices, the PETS Referral Center in Berkeley and the Solano-Napa Pet Emergency Clinic in Fairfield. These three practices currently employ more than 150 team members, including doctors specializing in internal medicine, surgery, oncology, ophthalmology, and dermatology.

Clark is a national speaker on veterinary practice management and served as Editor-in-Chief of the national peer-reviewed journal Veterinary Team Brief. Clark is active in local and state professional associations as well as volunteer organizations assisting pets and people. He is a past President of the Marin County Veterinary Medical Association and has served on numerous boards, including the Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society, Marin Humane Society, and VIN Foundation.  He also served as Chairperson of CVMA’s Economic Issues Committee, helping develop the first comprehensive economic survey of California veterinarians.    

In 2010, Clark joined the faculty of the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine as a part-time faculty professor overseeing the professional skills curriculum, including instruction in leadership, professionalism, communication, mental health, critical thinking, and business management. As leader of the “Doctoring” course, he greatly enjoys working with and learning from his students. Clark also enjoys working with many skilled colleagues at Davis and in private clinical practice. Under his direction, the Doctoring course has undergone numerous revisions is now a highly-rated part of the school’s curriculum.  Clark received the 2016 Zoetis Distinguished Teacher Award at UC Davis and the 2017 national SAVMA Teaching Excellence Award. His personal interests include volunteer work, travel, hiking, backpacking, skiing, wake surfing, target shooting, and kayaking.

Jim DeLano

Topics Covered: Live Zoom Session Financial Analysis

Dr. Jim DeLano is a veterinarian and entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience in veterinary practice leadership and management. He currently owns and serves as an active manager at seven thriving companies in the “pet space”, collectively generating 21M in annual revenue. At the same time, he works with three startups in the pet space, two involving AI, where he serves advisory and investment roles.

His practice ownership career was launched with a de novo in 1989. The 30-year run of this practice has seen two relocations, a merger and an acquisition, and it currently employs 110 staff caring for over 12,000 families and their pets annually. Developing and growing engaged staff is one of his passions.

Based on his leadership in the profession and the larger business community, Dr. DeLano was recently asked to join the AVMA Trust (a merger of AVMA LIFE and AVMA PLIT), where he and his colleagues are tasked with charting the next four decades of services for the AVMA membership. He serves as the Vice-Chair of the AVMA Trust as well as the Chair of the Finance Committee, overseeing finance, audits and investments. Dr. DeLano has also served as a director on several nonprofit and for-profit boards for over a decade.

His national speaking career launched in 2017 following presentation of Organized Onboarding™ and Mentoring Communications of Veterinary Associates™ to 700 practice owners and managers at the biennial VSG Veterinary Congress. Associates trained with Organized Onboarding™ have generated 46% higher annual revenues than previous associates, allowing them to earn an average of $35,000 more in gross wages in their first year. His data-driven approach to sharing the challenges and successes of a 30-year practice-owner career lends validity to his presentations.

In addition to his work in practice and at a national level in the profession, Dr. DeLano has served as an adjunct instructor in communication and business at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. For the past eight years, he has assisted in the development of a robust communication skills training program for veterinary students. Annually, he oversees a Salary Negotiation Lab for the VM III’s where students practice negotiating contract terms. Measurable outcomes detail higher starting wages as well as a narrowing of the gender pay gap for graduates of UC Davis’ College of Veterinary Medicine.

Gina Dokko

Topics Covered: Online Strategy and Human Resources

Faculty Profile »

Whitney Hischier 

Topics Covered: Live Zoom Session Strategy and HR

Whitney Hischier is a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business, as well as an international executive education consultant and business coach. Her career spans 20 years of business turnarounds, entrepreneurship, management consulting, and executive education, including a decade as Assistant Dean of Executive Education for UC Berkeley. At Haas, Hischier teaches experiential and consulting-based courses, including Startup Lab, International Business Development, Natural Leadership (equine guided education), Managing and Motivating People, and Problem Finding Problem Solving.

Gregory Perelman

Topics Covered: Online Finance

Faculty Profile »

Jeff Sanford

Lead for Capstone Project

Mr. Sanford teaches Practice Management at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and consults with veterinarians in Georgia and across the country. He teaches specialized business education programs for veterinarians and has developed industry assessment tools including the Practice Mapping Growth Tool, Practice Performance Health Check, Strategic Marketing Assessment for Veterinary Practices, Activity Based Costing Analysis for Understanding Fees Structures and the Practice Valuation Assessment.

In 2007, Sanford piloted practice management rotations at the UGA CVM and has expanded the program to the University of Florida, Auburn, North Carolina State, Michigan State, and Washington State. Today over 300 students and 200 practices have participated in the rotations. Many participating practices have had recorded revenue growth in excess of 30% a year and profits above 30% of gross. Overall he has evaluated over 500 practices. 

His accomplishments include assisting over 150 veterinarians to start or buy practices with a capital formation of over $370 million in loans. Sanford was the 2014 recipient of the Walter Barnard Hill Fellow Award which is UGA's highest award for teaching and contributions to improving the quality of life in Georgia or elsewhere. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Adult Education. Sanford has been named the 2014 recipient of the Walter Barnard Hill Fellow Award presented annually by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. The Hill Fellow Award is UGA's highest award in public service and outreach, recognizing sustained, distinguished achievement and contributions to improving the quality of life in Georgia or elsewhere.

Dean H. Rao Unnava

Topics Covered: Online Marketing

Faculty Profile »

Registration

The registration fee for this program is $2,500: Fee includes access to the online learning modules, enrollment in three live interactive Zoom sessions, materials, and education fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Foundations of Veterinary Business Program FAQs

What are the key goals of the program? 

The goal of our program is to help participants develop both the general and veterinary-specific business knowledge to successfully start, purchase, and operate veterinary practices.

Who is this program intended for?

Our program is designed to appeal to veterinarians and hospital administrators working in the profession who may not have the time or budget to pursue a full MBA program, as well as veterinary students with a strong interest in future practice ownership or leadership. Participants will learn how to analyze a practice to improve operations or consider a purchase. There is a heavy emphasis on small animal practice, however, individuals from other areas of practice will also find value.  About one-third of attendees are veterinary students and two-thirds are working professionals in the veterinary field.  

What makes this program different?

Our program is a unique collaboration between two highly-regarded schools—the UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM) and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM). Our program also differs from many others by providing both online and live Zoom learning. This allows us to provide a cost- and time-efficient learning opportunity for busy people. Attendees can work through the online content at their own pace and continue to have access to this material after completing the program. Our program is also unusual in offering both business fundamentals and veterinary-specific business information.

What does it cost?

We've worked hard to ensure this program is an exceptional value with a strong return on investment for our attendees. The registration fee is $3,500, which includes access to the four comprehensive online learning modules created by GSM business experts, the equivalent of four full in-person Continuing Education (CE) days delivered by veterinary business experts, catered breakfasts and lunches, materials, and education fees. We are able to offer this value thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. Each year we offer additional tuition subsidies for veterinary students. Travel and lodging costs are not included in the tuition fee. Enrollment is capped at 40 attendees to ensure an intimate learning experience.

Are scholarships available for students to attend?

The Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) will fund scholarships for five qualified student applicants, who receive up to $2,500 in tuition support. Request a scholarship by emailing: President@vbma.biz. VBMA scholarship applications are due Feb. 15, 2020. 

What knowledge is required to participate?

No specific business or mathematical knowledge is required to participate in our program, though a basic familiarity with Microsoft Excel is helpful. If you've never worked with Excel, we suggest taking a short online course (there are many inexpensive options) prior to this program. Participants who are currently practice owners usually have more advanced knowledge than others, however, they have still found the course very valuable.  

What documentation will I receive upon completion?

Graduates will receive a Certificate of Completion from the UC Davis Graduate School of Management as well as documentation of 21 hours or California CE credit in the area of practice management. This program is not RACE approved, but many states will accept CE credit provided by a university. If you reside outside of California and CE credit is a concern, please check with your state veterinary medical board. 

Please note: Continuing Education (CE) hours cannot be provided for the online coursework and participants do not receive college credits. Participants must attend ALL live Zoom sessions to receive a Certificate of Completion. If you can't make all of the live Zoom sessions, you are still welcome to join the program but we cannot provide a completion certificate.  

Who are the instructors?

Instructors include faculty from the Graduate School of Management and experienced practice owners and consultants from the veterinary field. See the speakers list above for instructor biographies.

How is the online curriculum organized and how much time is required? 

The online curriculum is organized into four core areas of business competency: 1) Managerial Accounting; 2) Finance; 3) Marketing; and, 4) Strategy & Human Resources. Each of these is divided into 3-6 key topics, which are further organized into subtopics. Participants gain access to the online materials in mid-May and have approximately six weeks to complete all of the modules prior to the first live Zoom meeting. The time invested varies significantly among participants. In general, each of the four core modules requires approximately 10–15 hours to complete. During the five weeks between the two live Zoom meetings, participants should schedule several hours each week to work remotely with their small group on the capstone project.

Are there tests?

The online curriculum includes quizzes for most topics, but these are just intended to help learners gauge their level of understanding. Otherwise, there are no exams. The time you invest in the online modules is up to you. This allows you to tailor your time based on what you feel will be most helpful. Obviously, the more time you invest, the more you're likely to get out of the program.    

What is the Capstone Project?

The Capstone Project is a highlight of the program for many participants. After developing a foundation of business knowledge via the online curriculum, participants are placed into small, diverse groups of six to eight people. Each small group is provided with extensive data on a real-life veterinary practice, each of which is facing different challenges. Small groups meet during the first live Zoom session to determine a plan for working through the case. Over the next five weeks, groups interface remotely to analyze their practice and make recommendations for improvement. Each group then presents to the class and an expert panel during the final weekend session.

Will I meet new colleagues with shared interests?

Yes, this is one of our goals. Each day of the live Zoom sessions includes interactive learning opportunities where you'll get to know others. We encourage a lively dialogue during class sessions, as there will be lots of wisdom in the room. You will also work closely with a small group on the capstone project.