COMPENSATION MODELS FOR VETERINARIANS
Research conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association (Compensation and Benefits, Ninth Edition – Published in 2020) REVEALS that a full-time-equivalent associate veterinarian’s average annual production of professional services totaled $499,915.
KEY FINDINGS: Nearly 2 out of 3 full-time associate veterinarians are paid on commission.
- 36% of full-time associate veterinarians were paid only a salary or hourly rate.
- 43% got salary or hourly compensation plus a percentage of production.
- 20% received only a percentage of production.
- According to the AVMA, doctors typically earn 18% to 21% (not to exceed 25%) of their production (the revenue an associate veterinarian generates through their delivery of services and sale of products), plus benefits.
IS THE QUALITY OF VETERINARY MEDICINE IMPACTED BY COMMISSION-BASED COMPENSATION?
- The comments stated below from leading veterinary websites would indicate there are potentially serious implications on the quality of veterinary medicine and on pet healthcare costs when veterinarian compensation is based on “production” (commission) — doctors can earn up to 25 percent of their production. Galaxy Vets, a new veterinary healthcare startup, plans to compensate its veterinarians without the pressure of a production-based salary.
How to pay veterinarians: salary, hourly or on production? (8.23.23)
A production-based approach to paying doctors — basically a form of sales commission.*
- I personally loathed being paid production. I simply don’t like having my medical recommendations tied directly to my income.
- When I was a brand-new vet, I had this discussion with a practice owner. I asked him, “Why can’t we just pay a good salary for good work?” He scoffed, “Human nature is not like that.” I find that a terribly sad statement.
- One thing I hated the most about production pay is the unpleasant competitive behavior it can create between some associates. I have worked at practices where associates stood over receptionists’ shoulders and actively swapped appointments between columns if they saw appointments booked that looked more lucrative than another.
*Veterinarian statements may be edited for length and or clarity.
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to paying veterinarians (10.28.20)
- “I think if you are in a culture where people are production driven, but not to the point of over-diagnosing or preventing other people from taking cases because they’ll lose production, it’s the best option because you’re rewarded for being talented or personable or working your butt off and seeing a client who wants a same-day appointment.”
- “In addition to that, a toxic culture would arise in the practice, with competition between associates fighting over more lucrative clients or who was scheduled first. There was even a reluctance to welcome a new veterinarian because they wanted the revenue to themselves.”
- “It’s highly transactional, not relational. There’s no financial benefit for associates to put in any time to help train staff members or mentor new veterinarians or take an active role in the clinic’s business interests.”
It’s time to do away with production-based pay and all its ills (10.1.18)
- In years gone by, veterinarians consistently were ranked among the top most-trusted professionals. But public opinion is changing. Today, many consumers think veterinarians are “selling” more services to grow corporate bottom lines.
- Production-based pay is hurting hospital cultures. Competition between associates, favoritism and an “every man for himself” mindset are becoming pervasive.
HOSPITAL GROUP: Galaxy Vets is launching nationwide (9.1.21)
- According to Dr. Tara McCarthy, Head of Community Engagement at Galaxy Vets (3.30.22):
- “With a priority to reduce burnout and promote better work-life balance, Galaxy Vets will compensate team members without the pressure of production-based salary. Top-of-the-market wage combined with equity and perks to all employees who work 24 hours a week or more will allow each individual veterinarian to design the financial and time freedom that works best for them.”
- 2022 BURNOUT SURVEY: The Emotional Toll of Financial Stress, Work Environment, and Euthanasia
- Galaxy Vets has launched its third annual burnout SURVEY which aims to track the burnout rate among veterinary professionals and its contributing factors. This year’s survey will also include an additional set of questions to further investigate the relationship between burnout and the work environment, compensation, and euthanasia.
According to Josh Guttman, Co-Founder & CEO of Small Door Veterinary:
- We created Small Door with a simple goal, to provide a better veterinary experience for both pets and pet parents.
- Because some vets are paid on commission, they might feel obligated to see lots of patients in a day. At Small Door, by contrast, providers receive a competitive salary and benefits, says Guttman, meaning they can see fewer clients—14 or 15 in a day, for example, instead of 20. As a result, doctors can do more thorough one-on-ones and feel less burnout, and pet parents get more face time with doctors. “That’s a win-win for everyone,” says Guttman.
MAYO CLINIC (HUMAN MEDICINE): NON-COMMISSIONED DOCTORS
The Mayo Clinic is the No. 1 ranked hospital by U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek.
- Structured, salary-only compensation plan for physicians is a model for pay equity, Mayo Clinic study finds (12.27.19)
- “A structured compensation program has been used for physician salaries at Mayo Clinic for more than 40 years to remove financial incentives to do more than is necessary or less than desired for the patient.”
- “There are no incentives or bonus pay, and nonsalary compensation and benefits are consistent across Mayo Clinic locations and specialties.”