How to Grow a Successful DVM

June 2023 |

What is the return on investment for practices that provide a comprehensive onboarding program? In a word: enormous.

Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center in the San Francisco Bay Area is noted for its success in growing and retaining DVMs. Co-founder Jim DeLano, DVM, attributes this to his Organized Onboarding program, which he and his team created a decade ago. It’s now a fully customizable, cloud-based platform that facilitates onboarding and mentoring new associates, as well as training lay staff.

Past the Paperwork

Onboarding is so much more than just filling out paperwork when you join a company, DeLano says: “It’s the first step in bringing team members into your community, introducing them to your culture, and helping them feel that they can be a driver of that culture.”

How It Works

All new associate DVMs spend three months in the onboarding program, which includes structured mentoring in four areas: systems, operations and flow; communication; medicine; and surgery. Mentors are paid. “When we pay mentors, we honor their commitment and can hold them to expectations of performance,” says DeLano.

One person—the “quarterback”—runs the program and serves as the systems, operations and flow mentor. “Your quarterback could be your practice administrator, practice manager or another team member,” DeLano says. “Just make sure it’s someone who understands the practice flow and has a hand in scheduling.”

Systems, operations and flow. For a new associate’s first two weeks at the practice, and longer if needed, the quarterback educates the new hire about all the practice’s systems and programs. Every time the new associate comes out of an exam room, the quarterback is there waiting to help, whether it’s putting in a blood-work acquisition, navigating the lab or mastering software. New associates also shadow for half-days in every department so they get the full picture of what the team supporting them does every day.

Communication. DeLano believes communication should never be considered a soft skill. “Communication skills can be taught and learned, and are vital to a veterinarian’s success,” he says. “I want our associates to have the confidence, skills and tools they need to be good communicators with both clients and coworkers.”

Medicine and surgery. Medicine and surgery mentors at Bishop Ranch meet one-on-one with their mentees four to six hours per month to discuss the systems that make medicine and surgery flow at the practice. One of the most important parts of these meetings is role-playing, which DeLano calls “Know Your Stories.” The mentor shares a patient’s signalment, history and physical exam findings, then asks the mentee to identify the issue and act out discussing it with the client, played by the mentor. They act out about 30 common practice scenarios over the course of onboarding.

Increased Productivity

When DeLano compared first-year production between associates who had participated in his onboarding program and those who had not, he found that participants processed about 20% more invoices in their first 12 months. “When we teach new hires the flow of the practice, how it runs and what they need to do during the day to successfully care for clients and patients, they spend less time asking questions, looking for things or redoing things they did incorrectly the first time, and they build more client trust,” DeLano says. “In other words, their efficiency skyrockets.”

Salary Bumps, Revenue Jumps

DeLano admits that the first three months of onboarding are slow because learning takes time, but any revenue the new associates don’t earn during that period is made up for in the following nine months. In their first year, the average client transaction of these associates is 22% higher than that of associates who started before the program was introduced.

“That’s a win-win. The individual veterinarians paid on production are now set up for higher pay—up to $35,000 more per year at Bishop Ranch—as well as a greater earning trajectory throughout their career,” DeLano says. “If we grow veterinarians who can produce upward of $750,000 and will stay with our practice because they have bonded with us, bought into our culture and know that we care about them, the payback on that initial investment of time is well worth it.”

All Aboard!

Using his practice as a testing ground, Dr. DeLano found that proactive versus reactive mentoring makes all the difference. Now he and his daughter Ramsey DeLano are making the program available to other practices through their carefully curated curriculum at

Contact your PSIvet Practice Consultant for more information about how you can get set up with Organized Onboarding in your practice.