Non-Veterinarian Ownership by States

If you are considering owning a veterinary practice as a non-veterinarian, turn to Mahan Law. While several states have legalized non-veterinarian ownership of veterinary practices by, most states prevent non-veterinarians from owning a practice. 

State veterinary practice acts are designed to make sure that licensed veterinarians (DVMs) make medical decisions. In addition, states that have adopted the Corporate Practice of Medicine (CPOM)* doctrine basically prohibits unlicensed individuals and entities from practicing medicine or employing licensed physicians to provide professional medical services.

While state practice laws and the CPOM doctrine are intended to establish high standards of care in veterinary medicine, they often prevent other veterinary professionals such as veterinary nurses, managers, and administrators from advancing in the field through practice ownership. These restrictions also limit the practice transition options for DVMs who are looking to expand or sell their practices.

That's where Mahan Law comes in. We advise non-veterinarians throughout the nation on their options for becoming practice owners, with a particular focus in the states of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina, all of which restrict the corporate practice of medicine. Our experienced veterinary attorneys also work with licensed DVMs to devise growth and exit strategies. 

Founding attorney Anthony Mahan is the owner of an animal hospital and also serves as in-house counsel to over 40 independent veterinary hospitals across the country. Tony has a grasp of the challenges practice ownership presents for non-veterinarians face and can help you navigate the labyrinth of laws and rules governing veterinary medicine. 

Well-versed in the applicable veterinary practice laws and rules, we are committed to helping you achieve your objectives in the veterinary space. Please contact our office today for a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced veterinary lawyers.

Options for Non-Veterinarian Ownership

Currently, about 15 states currently permit non-veterinarians to own a practice, however, there are options for non-veterinarians to buy into a practice in states with strict veterinary practice ownership laws. Given the complexity and inconsistency of these laws, it is crucial to work with an experienced veterinary lawyer. At Mahan Law, we can help to explore your options for non-veterinary ownership, such as: 

Establishing a Maintenance Service Organization

In states where veterinarian ownership remains a requirement, it is possible to create a management services organization (MSO) to take over the management and administrative services of the practice. In this arrangement, the MSO enters into an arrangement to provide such services for a fee. 

The MSO owns the facility, equipment and inventory, provides support services, and hires and manages non-veterinary staff while the veterinarian maintains control of the clinical aspects of the practice, hires and manages other veterinarians, and owns the patient records. 

The flexibility of MSO ownership allows non-veterinarians, including managers, veterinary nurses and family members to enjoy the financial returns of the practice. On the other hand, an MSO adds a layer of complexity to the practice that raises the potential of business and legal disputes. Ultimately, it takes a skilled veterinary attorney to make sure that the MSO is structured properly and your interests are protected.

Entering into an Administrative Services Structure

As an alternative to a maintenance service organization, some states permit a non-veterinarian to take over the administrative structure of the practice to work in conjunction with the veterinary professional service corporation that provides veterinary services. 

In this arrangement, the administrative service is a separate legal entity that provides necessary services to operate the practice, including:

  • Leased space
  • Equipment
  • Furniture
  • Instruments
  • Marketing services
  • Accounting services
  • Billing services
  • Recruitment of professional staff
  • General administrative services

Fees generated by the veterinary practice are received by the veterinary professional services corporation and distributed to the administrative entity as service fees. This structure has been able to satisfy many states' concerns about protecting the public because the separate structure ensures that medical services are provided by a licensed DVM. At the same time, the structure will vary depending on the state laws in which the practice is located. 

At Mahan Law, we leverage our in-depth knowledge of veterinary practice laws to negotiate and prepare well-conceived administrative services agreements that clarify the rights and responsibilities of each party -- the administrative services entity and the veterinary professional services corporation. 

Contact Our Experienced Veterinary Lawyers

The contemporary veterinary landscape is marked by the consolidation of veterinary practices and clinics, which makes it difficult, but not impossible, for non-veterinarians to own a veterinary practice. At Mahan Law, we can help determine whether establishing a maintenance service organization or entering into an administrative services arrangement is the best option for you. When you become our client, you can trust us to provide you with informed representation and cost-effective services, which is based on a flat fee. Please contact our experienced veterinary lawyers today.