UF veterinary student wins national business aptitude award

A University of Florida veterinary student has won a national competition focused on the pursuit of business excellence in the veterinary medical profession.

Erin Sole, a fourth-year student at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, was named the winner of the National Simmons Educational Fund Business Aptitude Award in January during the national Veterinary Business Management Association’s annual meeting in Orlando.

The $15,000 awarded is earned through an essay competition among individual school winners, all senior veterinary students, from veterinary colleges nationwide and overseas. Sole was selected from among 19 national and international candidates. The purpose of the award is to bring attention to the importance of business education in veterinary practice.

Individual school winners were tasked with resolving a case study involving challenges in business ownership and practice management. The case study focused on a business owner interested in selling a practice, and a young associate veterinarian interested in buying it but with multiple high-value corporate offers also in play. The goal was to develop a creative solution to satisfy the associate interested in buying the practice, while also maximizing profit from the sale.

“For my solution, with the immense help and advice of members of the veterinary finance community, I presented a partial sale option in which the associate purchases 80% the practice, and, together with the owner, is able to grow the practice so that the value continues to increase,” Sole said. “Through the initial sale, combined with earnings for the retained 20% ownership over 10 years and final sale after 10 years, the owner is essentially able to recover profit equivalent to the top corporate offer.”

Martha Mallicote, D.V.M., a clinical assistant professor of large animal clinical sciences at UF and an instructor in the college’s business certificate program, said the award reflected the substantial work Sole has put into the business certificate program and the marketing project she submitted.

The college’s business certificate program offers veterinary students a means of strengthening their exposure to the business aspects of veterinary medicine through completion of a series of courses and a summer practice externship.

“This award is incredibly meaningful, as it not only helps financially, but also validates my interest in someday becoming a veterinary practice owner myself,” Sole said. “I’m grateful to the Simmons Fund for the opportunity, and to Dr. Mallicote and the UF Business Certificate program for providing me with the business foundation that supplements the amazing veterinary medical education that we receive at UF.” 

The award is funded through the Simmons Educational Fund, a nonprofit corporation founded in 2002 by Simmons and Associates, a company that specializes exclusively in veterinary practice sales, valuations and negotiations.

“Every year Simmons and the SEF continue to be impressed with the quality and amount of work the applicants put into the case study submissions,” said David King, D.V.M., a fund trustee. “It is an absolute pleasure to review the submissions and appreciate the incredible creativity of business ideas some have demonstrated. These future D.V.M.s will no doubt be leaders in our industry.”

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