Many of our clients use several equine vets. There is the breeding vet, one who takes care of lameness issues, another who is a chiropractor and of course the vet that takes care of vaccines and emergencies. We can all think of other unique examples. I think there are three main reasons why this happens. The first is that the client is comfortable with the specific skill levels of a vet in a certain area. The second is the reputation of the vet in question. Finally, it may be that a vet wishes to specialize in an area.
Is this level of specialization a good thing? I used to think so but now as I see the effects of the economic downturn and the shifting landscape of the horse industry I am beginning to question it.
I was a believer in specialization because I thought that it is better to be a master of one or two things than be adequate in several. The rising value of horses required the best veterinary care. In our case we didn’t do repro work because we thought it was too hard to be on time to check mares while taking care of lame horses preparing for the show season.
So why is specialization perhaps not the best idea? I am seeing practices that were reliant on breeding suffer because fewer people are breeding mares, urban sprawl is pushing brood mare farms towards cheaper land or because this type of work is so price driven there is little room to raise fees to reflect rising costs. On the other hand lameness practices that performed many pre-purchase exams have seen this work decrease over the past year. How difficult is it for a client to have more than one vet from a practice come to a farm to breed a mare, perform a lameness exam or float teeth. Would you rather go to a large department store and get all you need at one stop or drive around to several small specialized stores?
When times are good specialization works very well. It can also work well in a one vet celebrity practice.   Right now I wonder if it is better to have diversity in a practice and offer better customer service by having our veterinarians be very good in several facets of vet med.
Being very good can satisfy the strong majority of problems. Consequently, there is less need for your clients to seek someone who is excellent in one or two facets of practices when they have a problem.
What do you think? Can specialization harm a practice and can we raise the standards of our vets to be very good in several areas of practice?

One comment
  1. Hopefully they know what is better to do. People ar eoften too in rush when deciding things.

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