Practice Ownership Internship


Paving a Path to Success: Alumnus establishes innovative internship to help new graduates become practice owners


It’s no secret.  The Animal Care Centers of Cincinnati is one of the most celebrated and praised veterinary hospitals in the city.  In fact, it has earned the title of “Cincinnati's Best Veterinarians” for six consecutive years, boasts a client satisfaction rate of over 98% and alumnus Dr. Dave Haeussler is the proud owner. His impressive network of veterinary care has turned into a successful family business that includes three practices in Cincinnati and one in Springfield, OH

In addition to overseeing his centers, Dr. Haeussler is using his 36 years of experience to help the next generation of veterinarians to become practice owners. “I’ve bought practices, started practices as a start up, merged practices, and grew my own little practice from a small house converted to a clinic to facilities with over 18 doctors in four locations”, said Haeussler. “This is about sharing knowledge, providing guidance and equipping our future veterinarians with the right tools to succeed as practice owners.”  


In the early 1980’s Dr. Haeussler was a recent graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine.  Faced with a limited number of positions available in the job market and a temperamental economy with high interest rates, Dr. Haeussler took a risk and decided to open his own practice just one year after being an associate. He soon discovered he was not prepared enough for his new venture.  “I remember that I made a lot of mistakes and I learned the hard way”, Haeussler noted. “It was the support of my mentors who were also alumni that helped me through that rough time and I wanted to pay forward the same support and guidance I received.”  


In March of 2016, Dr. Haeussler was a panelist at the Midwest Veterinary Conference for a session called “Recruiting, Interviewing, and Hiring Millennials”. At the conference, he crossed paths with moderator, Stith Keiser, then Business Manager for The American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Haeussler learned that Kaiser partnered with new veterinarians to help them establish practices. After the session he approached Kaiser about working together to create the “Practice Owner Incubator Internship” for new graduates. Their meeting was successful and by July, 2016, Dr. Haeussler and Mr. Keiser launched “The Practice Owner Incubator Internship” with four new graduates. The internship offers recent graduates with an interest in practice ownership, the opportunity to grow their skills as a clinician while simultaneously engaging in one-on-one practice ownership coaching and mentorship. It focuses on the areas of medicine, leadership, financial practice management, operations and human resources.


Dr. Haeussler believes it is paramount that new graduates learn how to manage their finances since many often possess a high student loan debt upon graduating. “Our internship actually works with money managers and people from the bank to teach students how to organize and manage their finances and help them to establish relationships with professionals like bankers, investors, and accountants who can help them to manage their business and personal finances”, said Haeussler. After completion of the internship, they will partner with their interns to help them set up a practice of their own. Interns will be a 20% owner of the practice while Dr. Haeussler and Kaiser will own 40% each. Once the new practice is stabilized, Dr. Haeussler and Kaiser will step aside and offer the owner a chance to buy them out so they can start managing their own business.  


Although Dr. Haeussler is committed to helping bring the business lens of veterinary practice ownership into focus for new grads, he emphasizes that it’s a “people business” as much as a “pet business”. The very first doctor he worked for in high school was an Ohio State alumnus and his very first position after graduating from the veterinary college was also with a veterinary medicine alumnus.  “Being an alumnus of Ohio State means you are connected to an expansive network of people and that includes alumni, faculty and staff that want to help you thrive”, said Haeussler. “It feels incredible to know that I’m one of the many working to create tangible opportunities to help our future veterinarians succeed.”

If anyone is interested in learning more about Dr. Haeussler or the “The Practice Owner Incubator Internship” they can reach him through the Animal Care Centers website at

Friday, November 25, 2016 - 11:26pm






The objective of this internship is to offer a veterinarian interested in practice ownership the opportunity to enhance their clinical and surgical skills while simultaneously learning what it takes to become a profitable business owner.  We have chosen an environment that is well-managed, significantly more profitable than national average, award winning, and enjoys a great reputation within our community. The program is divided into the five components highlighted below and will be integrated into your workweek. During your week you will also carry a full caseload so that your clinical and surgery skills stay strong. This internship can be either a 1 or 2 year term based on how quickly the individual is ready to go out on their own.  The ultimate goal of the internship is to provide intensive management/ownership training for the period of a year, while you simultaneously grow and progress as a practitioner, and at the end of this internship help you realize your dream of being a practice owner through partnering with you in a viable practice of your choosing. Based on your needs, we will stay involved as a partner until you are comfortable taking over as sole-owner.


To prepare you for success as a future partner in a practice, we will focus on several major categories during your year with us:

  1. Medicine

  2. Leadership

  3. Financial Practice Management

  4. Practice Operations

  5. Human Resources

Below you will find an overview of objectives for each.


1) Medicine

Clinical mentorship will follow the path you create for yourself, in conjunction with the Dr. Haeussler's team of veterinarians.  As a mentee, you will identify areas you’d like to be mentored in and mentorship will occur both formally via a set schedule with priorities, timelines and mentorship methods and informally through direct access to mentors.


Areas include:

  • Clinical Skills

  • Surgical Skills

  • Communication Skills with an emphasis on gaining client compliance


Additional components include the opportunity to:

  • Learn how to use good medicine in order to build the practice with key medical ratios

  • Learn how we utilize Wellness Plans to increase the quality of care for the pet and productivity for the clinic.

  • Learn good medicine and surgical techniques in a real world environment including extremely complicated diseases such as diabetes mellitus, DKA, GDV, Addison’s disease, Cushing’s disease, hyperthyroidism, etc.


2) Leadership

Leadership entails leading your team, leading your clients and constantly pursuing excellence as a practitioner and future practice owner. To help you grow as a leader, we have created the following objectives.

  • Complete online compatibility assessment to learn more about communication, leadership, learning and managing styles

  • Review completed on-line compatibility assessment to gain further understanding of your communication, leadership and personality styles

  • Learn from a management group with over 35 years of experience in the profession. 


3) Financial Practice Management

We will start with an overview of key financial concepts and then dig into how to influence these numbers thereby mitigating expenses and increasing revenue. Objectives include:

  • Organize, interpret and identify key performance indicators on a profit and loss statement (P&L)

  • Understand basic bookkeeping and the use of QuickBooks software for financial practice management

  • Learn to use Avimark computer software effectively – including how to produce searches and vital points to measure the productivity of our doctors

  • Review critical management metric numbers that we watch to evaluate our staff members and ourselves

  • Learn how to price products and services appropriately

  • Learn how to negotiate with vendors for lowest possible pricing

  • Learn inventory management

  • Learn to track production numbers and how to make corrections and adjustments

  • Learn to set and track production goals

  • Learn what metrics are important and how to manage them to the owner’s advantage

  • Staff productivity, doctor productivity, production per payroll hour (to watch payroll expenses)

  • Learn ratios


4) Practice Operations

  • Learn the importance of day to day practices such as the importance of estimates, grouping services into packages, doctor call backs, technician and assistant responsibilities

  • Learn the value of cultivating a relationship with a CPA, banker, and attorney and introduce them to our contacts to help them establish relationships for when they become owners

  • Learn how to effectively market your practice through social media

  • Learn how we leverage our relationships with rescue groups to build our business

  • Learn our community outreach programs

  • Learn how we use remote access computer technology to improve efficiency

  • Participate in virtually all communication concerning management

  • Learn basics of web page design SEO practices for website performance

  • Learn basics of computer equipment needs and how to diagnose equipment problems and know what to manage in house and what to outsource

  • Learn about general maintenance - what needs outsourced and what should be done in house.

  • Learn how to manage quality through client surveys using Google forms

  • Learn how we use different websites for employees, managers and docs

  • Learn how to create and incorporate YouTube channel for training and client education

  • Learn mass email setup through Vetstreet

  • Learn about CC processing and recurring virtual terminals

  • Tracking new ventures with searchable codes

  • Learn how we use our personal online drug calculators

  • Learn how we use automated calls for WP default payments

  • Learn strategy behind On hold messaging

  • Learn how to seek and take advantage of opportunities such as pet stores and as mentioned before, rescues. Seek out new sources of income where it did not exist before.


5) Human Resources

  • Learn our unique training techniques and programs for staff members and doctors

  • Learn how we use our camera technology to train our staff – including our doctors

  • Learn how to offer incentive programs to staff members in order to increase their compensation and productivity

  • Participate in all HR discussions – including recruiting, hiring and firing

  • Learn how to create, implement and follow-up on staff evaluations

  • Learn how to handle client complaints

  • Learn how to empower employees with documented instructions regarding what they are allowed to do if a client is unhappy, when to turn it over to the associate.

  • Learn OSHA laws, including what it takes to be in compliance

  • Learn how to handle employees’ injuries

  • Learn how to set up Workman's comp services and 3rd party representatives.

  • Learn how to handle the unemployment process


The above is provided as an outline and will be customized based on your background and interests. 


Intrigued? Have further questions? Want to set up an interview?

Contact us and let us help you realize your dream of becoming a practice owner!




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