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Dr. Melanie Bowden


Coeur D'Alene ID and Falmouth, ME

Vacation Vet, LLC

I am a 2016 Graduate of the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine and am a VBMA Honors Portfolio Graduate. After graduation I worked for Banfield for 1 year before moving to a family owned practice. I worked there as an associate for 1 year before becoming medical director. After two years in this position I made an offer on the practice which was outbid by NVA, I have since tried to purchase 2 other practices with similar results. I then chose to start my own relief service business to give me flexibility while exploring other options within Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Ownership. In January of 2020 I gave a TedX talk on the current state of professional mental well being and changes and challenges facing veterinary medicine including cost of care, accessibility of care, student debt load, burn-out and suicide. I am passionate about making work, work for you. Not the other way around. I am also passionate about mentoring veterinarians to produce the income they need to help control their student debt while also practicing good and appropriate medicine. I am a firm believer of facing student debt head on and that personal finances don't have to be complicated or totally self deprecating to do so. I have had several side hustles during my career including picking up relief work, and hosting on AirBNB.


Topics Covered

Topic #1: Building Your Veterinary Career

One of the upsides to the current demand for veterinarians is that you have a ton of options. In this talk we will start with the pros and cons of working for corporate groups vs. private practice vs. internships when first graduating. We will then discuss how the corporate structures of many companies also allows for increased leadership opportunities outside of ownership, including medical director positions. I will share my experience as a medical director, what a typical job description looks like, and how to gain the respect of more experienced colleagues when leading a doctor team. We will then go through what it looked like to set up my relief business, considerations for filling in at other practices, advertising and building clientele.

Topic #2: What they didn't teach you about being a veterinarian

In all honesty, in private practice the medicine is the easy part of my day. The vast majority of my day is taken up with non-medical issues. Whether it be managing client expectations and brand reputation, to team culture, to financial advising, to end of life counseling, a lot of my job is less about the hard science and more about the soft stuff. This talk will go through personal scenarios and how I handled them, recommendations on how to improve in reading clients and communicating effectively, how to deal with angry clients and the tough conversations. What if you really did mess up? What if you don’t know what is wrong? What if a client questions your ability because you “look young.” I have been there, here is how I dealt with it.

Topic #3: I Chose Standard Repayment: I am not Crazy. I had $240K in Student Debt. Debt free 2026

There are tons of different options out there for student loan repayment including Income based repayment, graduated repayment, standard repayment and loan consolidation. I AM NOT A FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL. But have extensively studied each of these in deciding how to deal with my student loan debt. We will go through a basic understanding of the options and discuss some of the pros, cons, and things many of my friends didn’t fully understand about income driven repayment until they experienced it. I will then discuss my personal loan repayment strategies and how I am making aggressive loan repayment work for me without sacrificing quality of life and living on Top Ramen.

Topic #4: How to become a Kick-ass Vet: Veterinary Workflow, Caseload, & Mentorship

According to the average vet in the united states is paid $84,555. That means for a veterinarian working 40-50 hours a week 50 weeks a year (typical full time employment) they are making $33-44/hour. The average electrician charges $40-100/hour according to Since graduating I have never made less than $100,000/year and that was working in the Spokane, WA & North Idaho market, not necessarily a high pay urban area like Seattle or Portland OR. In today’s veterinary environment there is a lot of pressure to handle a high case load, have a competitive ACT, and earn enough money to service your student loan debt. In this discussion we will talk about typical clinic work-flow, the benefits of horizontal scheduling and drop off assistants, how to delegate appropriately to team members, & how to be actively involved in team training. We will also discuss how to develop a mind-hive of veterinary mentors and resources to help you grow and develop your skills.

Speaker Fees: I expect chapters to reimburse travel costs (airfare, rental car etc) to and from campus, as well as, hotel accommodation if needed. I have a $1000 honorarium.




@vacationvet (on Instagram)

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