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Paving a Path to Success: Alumnus establishes innovative internship to help new graduates become practice owners

It’s no secret.  The Animal Care Centers of Cincinnati is one of the most celebrated and praised veterinary hospitals in the city.  In fact, it has earned the title of “Cincinnati's Best Veterinarians” for six consecutive years, boasts a client satisfaction rate of over 98% and alumnus Dr. Dave Haeussler is the proud owner. His impressive network of veterinary care has turned into a successful family business that includes three practices in Cincinnati and one in Springfield, OH

In addition to overseeing his centers, Dr. Haeussler is using his 36 years of experience to help the next generation of veterinarians to become practice owners. “I’ve bought practices, started practices as a start up, merged practices, and grew my own little practice from a small house converted to a clinic to facilities with over 18 doctors in four locations”, said Haeussler. “This is about sharing knowledge, providing guidance and equipping our future veterinarians with the right tools to succeed as practice owners.”  

In the early 1980’s Dr. Haeussler was a recent graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine.  Faced with a limited number of positions available in the job market and a temperamental economy with high interest rates, Dr. Haeussler took a risk and decided to open his own practice just one year after being an associate. He soon discovered he was not prepared enough for his new venture.  “I remember that I made a lot of mistakes and I learned the hard way”, Haeussler noted. “It was the support of my mentors who were also alumni that helped me through that rough time and I wanted to pay forward the same support and guidance I received.”   

In March of 2016, Dr. Haeussler was a panelist at the Midwest Veterinary Conference for a session called “Recruiting, Interviewing, and Hiring Millennials”. At the conference, he crossed paths with moderator, Stith Keiser, then Business Manager for The American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Haeussler learned that Keiser partnered with new veterinarians to help them establish practices. After the session he approached Keiser about working together to create the “Practice Owner Incubator Internship” for new graduates. Their meeting was successful and by July, 2016, Dr. Haeussler and Mr. Keiser launched “The Practice Owner Incubator Internship” with four new graduates. The internship offers recent graduates with an interest in practice ownership, the opportunity to grow their skills as a clinician while simultaneously engaging in one-on-one practice ownership coaching and mentorship. It focuses on the areas of medicine, leadership, financial practice management, operations and human resources.

Dr. Haeussler believes it is paramount that new graduates learn how to manage their finances since many often possess a high student loan debt upon graduating. “Our internship actually works with money managers and people from the bank to teach students how to organize and manage their finances and help them to establish relationships with professionals like bankers, investors, and accountants who can help them to manage their business and personal finances”, said Haeussler. After completion of the internship, they will partner with their interns to help them set up a practice of their own. Interns will be a 20% owner of the practice while Dr. Haeussler and Keiser will own 40% each. Once the new practice is stabilized, Dr. Haeussler and Keiser will step aside and offer the owner a chance to buy them out so they can start managing their own business.  

Although Dr. Haeussler is committed to helping bring the business lens of veterinary practice ownership into focus for new grads, he emphasizes that it’s a “people business” as much as a “pet business”. The very first doctor he worked for in high school was an Ohio State alumnus and his very first position after graduating from the veterinary college was also with a veterinary medicine alumnus.  “Being an alumnus of Ohio State means you are connected to an expansive network of people and that includes alumni, faculty and staff that want to help you thrive”, said Haeussler. “It feels incredible to know that I’m one of the many working to create tangible opportunities to help our future veterinarians succeed.”

If anyone is interested in learning more about Dr. Haeussler or the “The Practice Owner Incubator Internship” they can reach him through the Animal Care Centers website at

Last updated: 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 2:42pm