Episode #20

Veterinary Business Education: Now More Than Ever

Host: Veterinary Business Institute | Published Date: February 22, 2024

Join us for a stimulating discussion with  Dr. Rick DeBowes, Professor of Surgery at Washington State University, and Dr. Jeff Sanford, Director of Financial Literacy and Practice Outreach at UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. Both are recognized leaders in their fields and share a common goal: revolutionizing veterinary business education.

This episode delves into an innovative model that transcends traditional classroom learning. Gone are the days of confined lectures, replaced by immersive on-site visits. Witness students gain firsthand experience observing the practical realities of running a successful veterinary practice. 

Together with host Dr. Peter Weinstein, they dissect the crucial role of business education for vets and explore ways to make it accessible for everyone.

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!


  • 00:02:07 – Meet Dr. Sanford and Dr. DeBowes and learn about their backgrounds in veterinary medicine and business education
  • 00:07:12 – Explore the evolution of veterinary business education and its growing significance for aspiring veterinarians
  • 00:15:00 – Overview of the veterinary business education offered at Washington State University  and UGA College of Veterinary Medicine
  • 00:21:53 – ‘Business Externship’ – A new educational experience for future veterinarians
  • 00:31:10 – Replicating and broadening the reach of the ‘Business Externship’ education program
  • 00:38:05 – The positive impact of this program and the inspiring success stories of graduates

Dr. Rick DeBowes
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  

Dr. Jeff Sanford
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: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-sanford