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K-State News
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Online program teaches veterinarians small business basics

Monday, Aug. 19, 2013



MANHATTAN -- Veterinarians can strengthen their business knowledge and skills thanks to a program launched in partnership with Kansas State University.

Five courses and 25 video modules will be offered online to address topics like budgeting, recruiting and hiring new employees, improving client satisfaction, personal financial management and sales forecasting. The program targets veterinarians in rural areas.

The National Food Animal Veterinary Institute, based at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo., created the program with the help of faculty in Kansas State University's College of Business Administration, College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture. The veterinary institute fosters the development of large animal veterinarians in the United States and is supported by Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, Texas and Kansas.

"Kansas State University was a logical partner because of its location and participation in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, outstanding faculty, the operations at the Beef Cattle Institute, the strong support of Dr. Ralph Richardson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the large animal programs in our region," said Gary Clapp, a board member for the veterinary institute.

The program allows veterinarian practices to stay in business and turn a profit so that they can grow and hire more people, said J. Bruce Prince, professor of management.

"Veterinarians come out of school with really strong scientific and technical skills within the context of veterinary medicine, but sometimes they may lack the knowledge to run a small business, which is exactly what they will be doing," he said.

It is critical that these businesses stay afloat because they help protect America's food supply, said Kevin Gwinner, professor and head of the department of marketing.

"Veterinarians are the front line of defense for our nation in terms of animal health," he said. "If you were to have an outbreak of a disease -- whether intentional or unintentional -- you need veterinarians to be able to identify them. Keeping them in business and profitable is a national health and safety issue."

Many veterinarians deal with large animals like beef cattle and swine, said David Andrus, professor of marketing.

"By helping these veterinarians engage in better business practices, it will help improve productivity, rural economies and the food production chain," he said. "Many other businesses, such as feedlots, ranches and food supply companies, depend on our veterinarians daily."

The new program helps veterinarians become financially successful, said Dan Thomson, the Jones professor of production medicine and epidemiology, and director of the Beef Cattle Institute.

"Veterinary practices are the ultimate small business, similar to the family farm, and it is sometimes difficult to see where personal finances and business finances are separated," he said. "Because of the increasing debt load from tuition, helping veterinarians learn how to manage finances involved with owning a business, a truck, a house and more, while planning for retirement, is essential."

The program is another example of cross-disciplinary collaboration on campus, Thomson said.

"Working together to help bring solid solutions to our stakeholders is the land-grant mission, and we take this responsibility very seriously," he said. "Working together across our campus is key to achieving K-State 2025 and becoming a Top 50 public research institution by 2025."

Kansas State University was awarded a competitive grant to create the modules through a collaborative effort that included Iowa State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Oklahoma State University and University of Missouri-Columbia. Regional states are supportive of the efforts started by Jon Hagler, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, and Mike Strain, Louisiana commissioner of agriculture and forestry, with Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Iowa agricultural directors supporting the project.

Those interested may learn more at http://www.nfavi.org.


David Andrus

Kevin Gwinner

J. Bruce Prince

Dan Thomson

Gary Clapp


National Food Animal Veterinary Institute

News tip

St. Joseph, Mo.

Written by

Trevor Davis

At a glance

Kansas State University faculty members helped create an online program to strengthen veterinarians' small business knowledge and skills.

Notable quote

"By helping these veterinarians engage in better business practices, it will help improve productivity, rural economies and the food production chain. Many other businesses, such as feedlots, ranches and food supply companies, depend on our veterinarians daily."

– David Andrus, professor of marketing