When you ask Dr. Owings why she chose veterinary medicine as a career, she immediately responds that veterinary medicine is about people as well as pets. She obviously has a passion for both. Her respect for people has helped grow her relationship with clients and grow her practice, too. About 12 years ago when she purchased her practice, her team was a veterinary technician and 3-4 other staff members. She now has about 20 employees. Dr. Owings was not actively looking to become a practice own- er, but she had an Aha! moment when she was helping a colleague sell a practice. The practice for sale was the practice where she spent time observing before heading to veterinary school. It just seemed right that she should become the new owner.
The best advice Dr. Owings received early in her career as a veterinarian was to establish a good rapport with staff. She quickly learned the value of listening to staff and their advice on patients, clients, and how things were typically handled in the practice.
Dr. Owings continues to find relationships to be the most rewarding part of practice and life in general. She is an advocate for her community – both people and animals. She is on the Board of three local non-profit organizations and she has her own non-profit organization. The organization she founded, the Barkley and LuLu Foundation provides medical care for local pets in need and helps support the Jackson Cat Project. Besides all this, she is active with her two kids and their school. Dr. Owings is known as the school band tailgate mom – she and another mom feed the band, the cheerleaders, parents, and whoever else shows up, on Fridays of home games.
An obvious question for such a busy and dedicated person is: How do you maintain work-life balance? Dr. Owings is intentional about maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. She appreciates that being a veterinarian and a practice owner is a heavy lift – both mentally and physically. She understands the importance of a support system, including family, friends, and fellow staff members, to help maintain her work-life balance. In addition, she is strict about scheduling time for herself to do things she enjoys. “You need to feed your own spirit before you can help others,” she says. She chooses activities that give her energy. For example, cooking brings joy so those band tailgate Friday feasts and the times she has staff to her house for a meal all count as de-stressing time.
What is in the future for Dr. Owings? Practice related, she continues to develop parts of her practice such as acupuncture and house calls. She is strengthening staff development and remodeling her clinic. Professionally related, Dr. Owings becomes MVMA President in 2020. As a mom, her two kids will be graduating from high school soon. She will be maximizing time with them as they transition to a new phase in their lives.
Most memorable case to date:
Puppy “Jack” was her first emergency case – a prolapsed eye. She consulted with a colleague as she drove to the clinic and drew on experience from a veterinary school externship with an ophthalmologist to successfully complete surgery on her own. “Jack” ended up going home with Dr. Owings and was a part of the family for 14 years.
Most meaningful learning experience:
As a new graduate, Dr. Owings recognized some perceived her as too young to be a veterinarian. She sought a ‘how to change that perception’ solution through Dale Carnegie training. She highly recommends this training.
Mailstrom (email organization), Shipt (grocery deliveries from Meijer ), Slack (communicate within the office), Evernote (stay organized). She also relies on being able to work remotely from home.