Sunday, 15 April 2018

How the profession is changing....

Corporate or Independent?


Image result for choices

So locuming around you certainly get to see the best and worst of practices, that's a given. However the above question seems to keep cropping up in my world. What's everyone's opinion on this one? I'd be interested to hear your views.

My career overall has seen more time spent in Independently owned practices - they are a private enterprise either with one owner or a limited number of partners, they tend to only have one or two branches. The boss is normally a vet who works at the branch, with a practice manager (quite often their other half) working there too.

Corporates by contrast are huge enterprises, with one central HR and payroll hub. They have so many branches that you lose count, the bosses you tend to never see. You do however get regular visits from area managers and such like. Things are sent down from head office, ie new protocols and products. 

I can see the pros and cons to each, and continue to do so on a daily basis. I understand the buying power that corporates can wield therefore having the ability to pass that saving on to the end client (sometimes not). They tend to have a big network of locums and staff that they can draw on in times of need, they have big hospitals with specialised skill sets. However sometimes their staff feel like just a number, not really having their individual issues listened to. Vets feel their clinical choices are being taken away from them on a daily basis - you may only suture using this cheaper alternative etc. Clients continue to get confused by product changes, one year they're sold this type of flea treatment, the next another not necessarily because it's better but 'that's now the brand we sell'.

Sometimes the personal touch is lost vs independent branches - however these branches are becoming few and far between - being bought up on a weekly basis by the corporate chains. Still some of these corporates have the ability to retain the staff and therefore the clients may not even realise.

I've got to be honest I think I will always appreciate independently owned and run practices over corporates. Too many times I have heard the staff of corporates talk of just feeling like a number, too many are staffed with under experienced vets and nurses who are just left to flounder - with no sounding board of senior staff to bounce ideas off of. Yes they may have some of the latest equipment but they've lost the ability to treat clients and staff as individuals. There will always be those clients with money issues that have been known to the practice for years and years, and who always pay their payment plans that have been set up on a local basis - where as in my experience the bigger groups have zero tolerance for this. 

Alas as more and more of these little gems are bought up and taken over I really do wonder where the profession in the coming years will take us. Will it just be all out pricing wars between the different groups, will vast areas i.e. London be owned solely by one corporate? If staff feel undervalued in any set up they will eventually leave the profession and then those vast years of experience are lost. It's a scary world when some groups think third year trainees can be head nurses, even with my coming on 14years behind me I'm still not sure I'm ready. Or when they think 2 year qualified vets are now senior ones and are running branches by themselves and teaching new grads what to do. I don't deny some vets are amazing, but lately I've met lots that haven't even completed a caesarean let alone a GDV and are already considering leaving the profession.

To retain a fair a balanced post, I have also met nurses who love working at corporate branches, I just don't think it's for me.

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