Established more than 20 years ago, the Veterinary Medicine Institute (VMI) served as a model for Krannert's customized program for Pfizer Animal Health in Europe. (Photo by Mark Simons)

Teachers' Pets

Executive program trains Pfizer European consultants in animal practice management

Veterinarians in Europe typically spend five to six years studying in universities before heading into practice. Like their U.S. counterparts, they have mastered the medical skills necessary to treat animals, but are often at a loss when it comes to managing, marketing and financing their businesses.

More than 20 years ago, Purdue’s Krannert Executive Education Programs (KEEP) recognized the need to train veterinarians in business and management skills. In collaboration with the American Animal Hospital Association, the Veterinary Management Institute (VMI) began offering regular strategic marketing, human resources management and financial management modules taught by Purdue faculty.

It was because of this strong reputation as a leader in practice management that executives from Pfizer Animal Health in Europe contacted the Krannert School to develop a custom program similar to the VMI model to train its Animal Health Practice business consultants.

"This program gives them a tool set that they can use when approaching the issues facing a veterinary practice.”

The first cohort of consultants completed a multi-day program held at both the Purdue campus and Pfizer’s New York headquarters in 2008. The curriculum was designed around Pfizer’s new business model to put consultants out in the field working with VMI-inspired best practices. Helene Boucher, business consulting services marketing manager for Pfizer’s European operation, says that Purdue was the first choice when it came to the collaboration.

“Purdue is the only university which delivers a certificate in practice management,” she says, “and it gives our business consultants a strong differentiation from other animal pharmaceutical consultants in the European market.” It provides a value-added service when the reps are calling on their top clients, many who are finding themselves in an increasingly competitive field.

Chuck Johnson, executive director of KEEP, says that many of the business consultants have animal science or veterinary medicine backgrounds but don’t necessarily have an understanding of management and finance principles. “This program gives them a tool set that they can use when approaching the issues facing a veterinary practice,” Johnson says. “It also increases consultants’ credibility when their training is from a world-class university known in this field.”

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