Mentoring veterinarians: VPI takes it seriously — and so do I!

This week and next are two of my favorites, right up there with time spent attending veterinary conferences and visiting veterinary schools and colleges. That’s because this week and next I get to spend time one-on-one with veterinary students, one this week and next week.

For a while now, we at VPI have had a program where we bring in a veterinary student for an intensive few days here in our offices in Brea (Orange County, Calif., not too far from Disneyland, but I’m sure no student ever thought about that … oh no!). Our hope is that by the time they leave they’ll not only know more about pet-health insurance and preventive- and wellness-care plans, but that they’ll also have a better idea about what it’s like to be both a  veterinary professional and a business professional.  As our VPI-Veterinary Economics Financial Health Study clearly showed, the next generation of veterinarians is going to need financial savvy along with their medical knowledge to get by. And we want to help them acquire that knowledge. (It’s a passion of mine, especially, since I love business and financial topics, as my MBA might suggest to you.)

Back to our extern program. While we support the veterinary community in many ways, all year around, two of our programs are specifically targeted to veterinary students. Our VPI-VBMA Case Study Competition is perhaps the  better known of the two, in part because the Veterinary Business Management Association‘s  student chapters in most veterinary schools and colleges help us to get the word out. I believe, however, that our externship program is also extremely valuable to veterinary students.

JonicaThis year, we had two applications that so impressed us that we simply could not choose between them. So we called it a tie!  This week the first of our externs is here: Her name is Jonica Thompson (that’s her to the left of me in the picture, visiting our P&WS department), and she’s a member of the Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine‘s Class of 2016.

I’ll be writing at greater length on this year’s externs after both women have had their time here, including offering some of their thoughts about the program. But I’d like to share a little of why Jonica wanted to spend the week with us:

My prior work experience primarily involved research. It includes two years as a graduate student working on microRNA analysis on various watermelon species. During my undergraduate career, I worked as a student research technician for a fermentation lab analyzing feed content. I have limited experience working in veterinary clinics, but during my time as a volunteer I was able to see first-hand how the cost of good  veterinary care can impact the well-being of a patient.  […]  I am interested in being a general practitioner, and I understand how difficult it is to retain clientele when payment for veterinary bills must come out of pocket. I would like to learn how to educate potential clientele on the value of pet insurance. If customers understood the significance of pet insurance,  it will help build up business and reverse the downfall of private practice.

Welcome to VPI, Jonica!


This weekend I’ll be in Denver to see the new offices of our VPI associates based there, and on Sunday I’ll be attending our K9K event for pet-lovers. The K9K is always a lot of fun, and proceeds go towards raising awareness of cancer in pets.  Please drop by if you’re in the Denver area and say hello!  Here’s a link for more information. I’ll be posting to my Twitter and Facebook accounts from the event so you can enjoy even if you can’t be there.