Dr. Weinstein Wants to Make A Difference for Veterinarians
By Jim Bell
Dr. Peter Weinstein, SCVMA’s executive director and recipient of the 2017 Cortese-Lippincott Award, sees the association as “very strong. . .with hopefully state and even national influence.” And, he said, “my long-term vision is to make sure that it stays strong and continues to make a difference for the veterinarians, pets, pet owners and the profession.”
Part of his vision, he said in an interview, is “to help practices remain successful and financially profitable and to ensure that veterinarians have a life balance so that they can appreciate the return on their investment of time with their families and whatever interests they have. I see way too many veterinarians who are overworked, under-appreciated and under-paid. I’d really love to see everyone having more fun with less stress.”
In terms of size, Dr. Weinstein said, SCVMA is in the top 10 to 15 U.S. veterinary associations. “We’re probably bigger than 40 state [organizations].
“I like what I do. I like the outcomes and influence and I like making a difference. My personal vision statement is to help make a difference and I think that’s what I’m doing.
“I can get a lot of things done in a very short time because I have a great team, a great staff, a great Board [of Trustees]. And we’ve learned how to focus on what our strengths are. We’ve tried different things that didn’t work so we’re trying to simplify what we do so we can provide what we do better, more effectively, more efficiently, with a greater return to our membership.”
Some 60 to 65 percent of veterinarians in the SCVMA area are members of the organization. “It’s really hard to grow a professional organization these days because, for all intents and purposes, millennials are not joiners. Our goal and challenge is to figure out how to engage these younger veterinarians and give them as much value as we can for their investment [in SCVMA]. The same goes for more seasoned veterinarians.”
The Cortese-Lippincott Award is presented annually by the Animal Health Foundation in cooperation with the SCVMA to someone who has gone “above and beyond” to make the world a better place for humans and animals and someone who excels in community service and education in the veterinary community and in support of the human-animal bond.
“I hope I have done all those things, as a practitioner, as a consultant and now through the SCVMA,” Dr. Weinstein said. “I’m honored to be one of a small group of recipients. Joe Cortese was one of my mentors so I’m even more honored that I’m recognized with an award associated with his name.”
Dr. Weinstein is author of two books intended to help veterinary practice owners negotiate the shoals of running their businesses. He has ideas for one or two more. He also is working with others on an idea that will be mostly web driven to provide support for practices and practitioners by providing educational support on the business side of veterinary medicine.
“I’m looking for ways to educate and provide knowledge that’s useful and practical and bite size,” he said, “so veterinarians can take a bite, do something, get some successes and continue moving forward. I think that sometimes, learning about business is like drinking from a fire hose. And if you can take one sip at a time and quench your thirst, it’s probably healthier for you. So we’re looking for ways to deliver bite-sized educational pieces with some action items that help or coach veterinarians to be successful.
“I think it’s important that veterinarians have a resource that keeps nudging them forward. So we’re looking at creating that.”
Dr. Weinstein’s books are intended, he said, to help veterinarians “take control of the chaos in which we exist and focus on working more effectively, more efficiently, more systematically and more predictably so we’re not reinventing the wheel every day.” His first book, “Retention Marketing for Veterinary Professionals,” was coauthored with Steve Kornfeld and published in 2013. The second, “The E-Myth Veterinarian,” coauthored with Michael Gerber, was published in 2015.
The SCVMA executive director – he has held the job since 2007 – grew up on Long Island near New York City. His father, who died last year, was a certified public accountant, then worked 25 years as president of a private foundation.
“My mother was a biology teacher and my maternal grandfather was a general practitioner MD,” he said. “So I had the gene pool [for veterinary medicine]. When I was growing up, we had cats and I enjoyed going to the veterinary hospital to see their care provided. So I think the gene pool, the cat experience and reading “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot all motivated me to pursue becoming a veterinarian. It really was the only focus I had growing up.”
Dr. Weinstein earned a B.S. degree at Cornell University, then moved to the University of Illinois where her earned an M.S. degree and his veterinary degree, awarded in 1986. He added an MBA from Redlands University after he became a practice owner in Laguna Hills. He believed he needed “resources to help me be a better business owner as a veterinarian. So I went back to school at night for two years. Redlands had a campus in Irvine 10 minutes from my house.”
He came to Southern California not long after earning his DVM degree. “After all the years in New York and Illinois I decided frostbite was not something I wanted to continue to experience,” he said. He spent a few years working at different Orange County practices, including for Dr. John Hamil, who was his business partner when he started his Laguna Hills practice in 1989.
Dr. Weinstein sold the practice to NVA in the late 1990s, staying on as practice manager and administrator until 2000, when he left to do veterinary business consulting until 2003, when he joined Veterinary Pet Insurance as medical director and head of the claims department. He left VPI and returned to consulting in 2005, then joined SCVMA in 2007.
“I’m only the third executive director [succeeding Don Mahan and Dick Holden, neither of whom was a veterinarian],” Dr. Weinstein said. He had served as SCVMA president in 1997.
His wife, Sharon, was named winner of the Ginny Grant Award last year. She has just completed 10 years as a zookeeper at the Orange County Zoo. He has two daughters. Brianna graduated from USC in 2016 and works for Oracle in Santa Monica. Brooke is a sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with her eye on a veterinary career.