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                    John Gay, DVM PhD DACVPM               AAHP                  FDIU             VCS

Non-Veterinary Focused Reading Lists for Veterinarians

Updated February 26, 2014



This is a resource list intended for veterinary students interested in developing their business expertise.

The contents are biased toward agricultural animal practice providing services to commercial agriculture, which is business-to-business (B2B) professional service business (in contrast to conventional individual animal practice, which is business-to-consumer (B2C) professional service). Although most practices are classified as small business (rather than large) and in the service sector, veterinary practice serving individual clients and individual animals is different, particularly in optimal marketing practices. Comparisons in other professions would be public accounting firms serving corporate clients vs. businesses providing individual tax return services or corporate lawyers vs. personal defense attorneys

Knowing this is important for several reasons:

To develop expertise, make a habit of reading at a regular time each week. You have more free time in school than you will have in a busy practice. In practice the only time that you are making money is when you are doing something that is billable to a client. Anything else is at best an investment toward doing future billable work.

Note: As I am not qualified to do so, I have not verified the accuracy or usefulness of many items so you must use your judgment. Inclusion does not imply endorsement nor does omission imply disapproval. I have not made more than a brief, cursory scan of  some of these sites to determine if they appeared sufficiently interesting to warrant including.

Be careful! As watching CNBC's American Greed: Scams, Schemes, and Broken Dreams demonstrates, many are happy to give bad advice, to promise to make you rich, to abscond with your money and to otherwise take advantage of you. If it seems too good to be true, it is. For understanding what is "too good", see "Capital Management and Investment Decisions" (pdf).  Some popular advice is very wrong; see John T. Reed's "a cautionary analysis." Popular gurus often present a different model of their history than what they actually did - see Lewis Schiff's Business Brilliant and Helaine Olen's Pound Foolish.

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Recommended Non-veterinary Reading:

A useful question to ask the leaders and shakers of the profession is "what non-veterinary books have you read that changed how you do things and that you would recommend to veterinary students interested in livestock production agriculture?". Below is that list (my apologies to those providing the many recommendations I've forgotten over the years) as well as recommendations from others. P.S. If several people mention the same book or it appears on several lists, time invested in reading it is likely well spent!

Attributed to Earl Nightingale: “If a person will spend one hour a day on the same subject for five years, that person will be an expert on that subject.”

Remember - 20 minutes a night, 5 nights a week for 2 months ~ one university credit (50 min/session x 15 sessions)

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My Business Book List - pdf  

My suggested set of books, many inexpensive paperbacks, for understanding business issues underlying the agricultural animal practitioner (food supply veterinary medicine) supply issue, recognizing that that providing services to commercial livestock agriculture is a business-to-business (B2B) professional service rather than a business-to-consumer (B2C) professional service that conventional individual animal practice is. Others suggested books are listed below. If you have favorites that provided key insights or changed your path and aren't listed, please let me know.

Other Internet Resources:

Examples of sources for more reading (Googling 'best business books' hits 370K of lists):



Food for Thought:

Agricultural calculators

International Agriculture:

  • Lukefahr SD (1999). Teaching international animal agriculture. J Anim Sci 77(11):3106-13.


  • Peter Drucker quotes: (Think Exist, The Drucker MBA pdf)
    • Marketing is the whole business, taken from the customer's point of view - source
    • The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer
    • Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.
    • Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.
    • To develop yourself, you have to be doing the right work in the right kind of organization.
    • Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship, the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.
    • We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.
    • The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.
    • Knowledge workers must take responsibility for managing themselves.
    • Opportunity is where you find it, not where it finds you. 
    • The best way to predict the future is to create it.


  • Brain Based Biz (Robyn McMaster)
  • Jim Harris - speaks on The Learning Paradox - YouTube
  • RFE: Resources for Economists on the Internet

Digital communication innovation continues changing how veterinarians access and exchange information. Instead of being isolated from your fellow practitioners, you can rapidly share information with others that have similar practice interests. The following are recent examples of developing social networking software:/p>

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