Q: I'm a practice manager trying to decide between pursuing an MBA or a CVPM. What do I need to consider to choose the right program for me?
"For starters, you may want to consider which one you should choose first, rather than narrowing it down to one versus the other," says Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member Marianne Mallonee, CVPM, hospital administrator at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo.
Marianne Mallonee, CVPM
If you're planning on staying in the veterinary field, she says, the CVPM designation provides industry-wide recognition and respect as well as pertinent experience and information in the areas of human resources, law and ethics, marketing, finance, and practice organization.
"This is the most well-rounded and applicable program available to veterinary practice managers who plan on continuing in this role," Mallonee says.
A portion of the application process requires formal education from an accredited college or university in disciplines pertinent to practice management.
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"If you don't already have these courses under your belt, I know colleagues who have taken MBA-level courses to satisfy this requirement. And these courses can then be used to acquire an MBA," she says. "As you consider what the right next step is for you, sit back and look at where you spend more of your time in your current role, where you see yourself wanting to expand your skills in the future, and what your long-term goals are."
For example, she says it's important to take time to consider your own strengths and weaknesses and your current job requirements. Some practice managers handle more human resources responsibilities, while others are more deeply involved in the practice's finances. If you're involved in a lot of human resources work, she also encourages exploring other certifications, such as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from the Society for Human Resource Management.
"The CVPM is an excellent foundation for you as a practice manager and gives you the most global viewpoint for your job," Mallonee says. "Then you can supplement this in the future with an MBA or PHR."