Addressing the Insanity of Veterinary Team Under-Utilization

April 1, 2019

Leveraging your team to its MAX!

If you always do what you have always done, you always get where you have always gone. This is the definition of insanity.

Let’s explore how this unfolds within the realm of veterinary team utilization.

At the foundation of every successful veterinary practice is a successful veterinary team.   This team is made up of people with various passions and talents. Each team member brings great depth and breath to the services provided to the client and patient. Clearly defining their roles, expertise and scope of practice improves the delivery of veterinary care.

Mega Study

Back in 1999, the “Mega Study2 identified “inefficiency of the delivery system” as one of the six critical issues that needed to be addressed for veterinary medicine to succeed moving into the next millennium.

Yet all these years later, how much has the needle really moved? Are you practicing veterinary medicine today the same way you did in 1999? If yes, read the first paragraph again.

After all, the headlines for “[email protected]” on January 16, 2019 read:  “Enhancing utilization of veterinary technicians highlights House of Delegates meeting.”3

Don’t get us wrong, we’re GLAD this is being discussed. However, it points to the insanity of addressing the same issues for all these years!

Inefficiency of the Delivery System

“Excess capacity remains a substantial challenge for veterinary practices,” states Dr. Frederic Ouedraogo, an assistant director in the AVMA’s economic division. “Excess capacity describes a practice that, for a number of reasons, including failure to fully use examination rooms or veterinary technicians, is producing less than it potentially could. Just over half of all private veterinary practices are characterized by excess capacity.”4

There are many contributing factors to “excess capacity.” A few additional areas to consider are surgery suites, the back area (dental, x-ray, prep area, etc.) and equipment.

Focus on the under-utilization of the veterinary team 

Perhaps Pareto’s 20/80 law may exist when considering the utilization of veterinary teams. That is, 20% of practices are doing a good job, while 80% could utilize their team better.5

Using this simple law, the 20% that are doing a good job understand the roles and formal education of its team members. In this model, veterinarians are leveraged to their MAX in performing the services they are trained to do:

  1. Diagnose
  2. Develop Treatment Plans
  3. Prescribe
  4. Surgery

The rest of the veterinary team is then properly leveraged for everything else within their scope of practice.

Fullest Potential

Are individuals encouraged to unleash their fullest potential?6

How adaptive and adventurous is your hospital when it comes to “thinking outside the box?” When individuals are allowed to stretch their knowledge and skill level to extremes, the result is increased job satisfaction, retention and productivity.  Truly a win-win scenario.

Perfect Timepocket watch

There will always be plenty of excuses to not move forward: because it’s always been done this way, or we’re too busy, or ___ fill in the blank.  Yet if you’re in the 80% category (under-utilization), then welcome to insanity!

Now is the time to evaluate the veterinary delivery system and leverage the team to its MAX! Now is the time to further define your veterinary team’s role in the efficient delivery of veterinary care.

By identifying team members’ abilities and maximizing their potential, a greater depth of services can be provided to the client and patient. Only in this way will the insanity circle be broken.

Yours in Maximum Utilization,


Computer with message: Free Webinar SeriesFor an elaboration on this concept, consider signing up for the free webinar on April 13, 2019. If you can’t attend, a taped version will be available post webinar.

Sign up here



1  Veterinary Team Synergy.  

2  The Current and Future Market for Veterinarians and Veterinary Medical Services in the United States Executive Summary. May 1999 John P. Brown, PhD, and Jon D. Silverman, PhD. KPMG LLP Economic Consulting Services.

3  AVMA at Work.

4  Market for Veterinarians Still Strong. JAVMA. November 2018.

5  Maintain and Retain. Tending to your amazing culture and awesome team.

6  Unleashing Your Fullest Potential.