Change is hard. We all agree on that, but not changing in response to pressures on your business can be devastating. Those that can respond quickly and adapt to new challenges have the upper hand in the market place. An example of this in action is the debate over concussions in both hockey and football. Both sports are under increasing scrutiny over the effects of head hits. We are all familiar with the stories of middle-aged ex-players with premature dementia, and there is nothing more disturbing than seeing a player splayed out on the ice or turf unconscious after a hit to the head. These are supposed to be fun sports, not carnage. An inadvertent head shot is one thing, but the problem are those plays that involve deliberate attempts to injure an opposing player. Who would want their child to play these sports knowing that head injuries are considered an acceptable side effect of playing the game? What has this got to do with change? The response from the NHL and the NFL to this issue cannot be more different. Over the past couple of years the NHL has deferred responding to the controversy until the end of the season when they will put together a committee to study the matter. This seems to happen every year. Their reticence to change anything is based on their concern that they don’t want to alter the spirit of the game. They state that the game is so fast that how can you expect a player to know that their body check is connecting with the other player’s head? Meanwhile, injured players continue to sit out games and loyal fans are deprived of the opportunity to see their favorite players play. Compare this to a recent Sunday of particularly brutal illegal head shots by football players that were all over the highlight reels. Within a week the NFL implemented new penalties for helmet-on-helmet hits. What happened the next week? There was not one infraction and the games were still exciting. Long term, I imagine that the NFL will continue to have a strong fan base with a game that is responsive to changing times. As a Canadian I hate to admit it but the NHL runs the risk of losing market share in the competitive sports arena. Their inability to make the decisions for fear of altering the spirit of the game is maddening. What sport is the same now as it was even 20 years ago?
The same sort of inertia faces many of us in equine veterinary practice. We are used to a profession that grew regardless of how involved we were with the business side of it. Those days are over. There are numerous challenges facing our industry that, if not dealt with, can have a profoundly negative effect on our practices. For those of us with large repro practices or a strong racehorse clientele, what are we doing in response to the decline in these areas? What about internet pharmacies or the obscene amount of student debt that prevents associates from buying into practices? I don’t believe any of us are immune from the economic downturn. With these sobering thoughts in mind now is the time to make the hard decisions about how we are going to change our practices to adapt to this new reality. Business cannot carry on as usual. The NFL realizes this.
What are you doing to change your veterinary practice?