Episode #25

Next Level Business Education For Veterinary Students

Host: Veterinary Business Institute | Published Date: March 28, 2024

The world of veterinary medicine extends beyond the clinical. 

Tune in to this episode of the Veterinary Business Podcast where Drs. Rick DeBowes and Jeff Sanford shed light on their innovative elective program for veterinary students.  This program delves into the crucial business aspects of veterinary practice, empowering students to envision a future filled with possibilities – from practice ownership to achieving financial stability. 

Drs. DeBowes and Sanford illuminate the path to success by dissecting common challenges faced by veterinary practices, including leadership deficiencies, team management shortcomings, and inefficient systems.  This enlightening discussion emphasizes the importance of strong leadership in fostering a positive practice environment and achieving optimal results. Additionally, the episode underscores the significance of intentionality in veterinary medicine, urging practitioners to define the specific medical services and exceptional client experiences they aim to deliver.

Remember, the success of future generations of veterinarians hinges on equipping them with the necessary business skills. Join the conversation and be part of the change!


  • 00:02:38 – Externship and Elective Overview 
  • 00:04:40 – Student Success Stories
  • 00:17:42 – Common Findings from On-Site Visits
  • 00:24:49 – Leadership Paradigm Shift – explores the changing definition of leadership in today’s world
  • 00:28:58 – New Veterinarian Mentoring and Onboarding
  • 00: 38:32 – Staff Retention and Client Retention
  • 00:45:06 – Systems and Downfalls – analyze common pitfalls experienced with veterinary practice management systems.
  • 00:50:46 – Future of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Rick DeBowes

Professor of Surgery, Washington State University

Richard M. DeBowes, DVM, MS, DACVS, is a Professor of Surgery and the former Director of the Professional Life Skills program at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. A 43 year veteran of academic veterinary practice and administration, Dr. DeBowes has focused the later half of his career on coaching professionals, and health care teams around leadership, teamwork, organizational culture, medical communication and veterinary practice management. He has published over 110 papers, 20 book chapters and presented over 400 programs in 28 countries on 4 continents. A former ACVS Regent, former President of the AAVC and twice President of the NAVC, Rick has received a host of teaching and professional awards including the AVMA President’s Award, the University of Illinois’ Irwin Small Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Washington State Veterinarian of the Year. Rick’s personal mission statement is to “lift others up”, and his core values include: Joy, Integrity, Love, Empathy and Strength and he embraces the concept of win-win in every personal and professional relationship.

Connect with Dr. DeBowes
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rick-debowes-82a685a 

Dr. Jeff Sanford

Director of Financial Literacy and Practice Outreach at UGA College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. 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.
Connect with Dr. Sanford

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-sanford-b81a0843/