Alumnus Promotes Entrepreneurial Vision, Courage, and Urgency as Keys to Future Success

Scott Spaulding, DVM'91 Photo: Kelly Kendall Studios


Since graduating from the SVM, Scott Spaulding, DVM ‘91, has recognized the importance and value in advocating for and representing the veterinary medicine industry. During his accomplished career, he has been a practicing equine doctor, president/CEO of Badger Veterinary Hospital, and co-founder of Vet24seven, veterinary medicine’s first telehealth platform. As a lifelong entrepreneur and inspirational leader, he is passionate about sharing his experiences and expertise with the next generation of veterinarians, leaders, and entrepreneurs.

How did your SVM education contribute to or inspire your success after graduation?
Entering veterinary school, I was well aware the veterinary degree was a fabulous degree. At the time, I assumed it set one up to be a successful clinician, a practitioner. I didn’t appreciate the well-rounded degree it truly is. Veterinary school instilled tenacity, perseverance, and accentuated my problem-solving ability. It taught me teamwork and the ability to research complex problems that have multitudes of solutions. I honed my ability to professionally communicate with colleagues and to convey complex messages to animal owners, often under circumstances of extreme duress. I never imagined the doors that my veterinary medical education and veterinary degree would open.

Who influenced your time at the SVM the most and why?
Barney Easterday was a great inspiration to me. He was so proud of being a veterinarian and of his students. He and a small group of people actually founded and built the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, from the ground up. His passion, vision, courage, and tenacity inspires me to this day. Sue Hyland, the school’s first associate dean for academic affairs. Sue instilled incredible empathy in all the students she advised and she remains a close friend of mine She has incredible listening skills and is someone that can see the truth so easily.

Sheila McGuirk is an amazing clinician and an incredible communicator. Sheila was an incredible influence on every day that I was a practicing veterinarian. I learned how to perform a thorough physical exam, interpret clinical laboratory results, formulate a list of differential diagnoses, compile and implement a treatment plan and to communicate with animal owners professionally and empathetically.  Peter MacWilliams and John Dahl introduced me to and encouraged me to become involved in organized veterinary medicine. They instilled in me the value of growing my professional network and giving back to the profession of veterinary medicine.

Why is entrepreneurship important for the future of veterinary medicine?
When I was part of the inaugural group that founded the AVMA’s Economics Division in 2012, one of our first tasks was to calculate the total value of the veterinary/animal health industry in the United States. At the time we estimated the total value of goods and services produced by our industry to be approaching $40 billion annually. We projected that over the ensuing 10 years this value would grow to $80 billion annually. In reality, the industry grew to $118 billion by 2019 and many predict it will be a $300 billion industry by the end of this decade.  Few industries are growing more rapidly. I believe veterinarians and highly trained professionals need to own this space. We are the animal experts, and if we choose to abdicate this space too many others will be eager to step into our shoes.  We need new ideas, new technologies, and new energy to chart the course moving forward to satisfy the demand for veterinary services. If we choose not to abdicate this space to others, we will need leaders with strong visions for the future, the ability to recognize those visions and elucidate the path forward. We need leaders to act boldly and who have the courage to take action with urgency. Those entrepreneurial-minded individuals with these characteristics can enjoy financial reward beyond their wildest imaginations.

What hard-earned truth did you learn during your career that you wish you’d known sooner?
My career has been a journey, sometimes the path forward isn’t entirely clear. One needs to believe in themselves and always find the courage to keep moving forward. Things happen for a reason, and sometimes the reason becomes apparent and other times it doesn’t. Rely on your intuition to help you through challenging times. Your “gut” seldom fails you.

What are the three most valuable traits you think are necessary to make an impact in this field?
The ability to recognize your vision, to find the courage to take action to realize your vision, and the ability to act with urgency. Don’t delay until tomorrow.  Learn to make that call today!

What are the most exciting things that will define the future of veterinary medicine?
At this point in my career, the most exciting thing I see today is the application of augmented intelligence to clinical practice. I don’t think most of us can even imagine the impact this will have on clinical practice.  Another thing that excites me is the continual need for strong leadership and great communication skills. These are basic skills that have set great entrepreneurs apart for decades. The exciting part today is the fabulous tools and extraordinary people available. Learn how to leverage them to your ability.

Scott Spaulding’s 3 favorite books about entrepreneurship

  • The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power by Brendon Burchard
  • The E-Myth Enterprise: How to Turn A Great Idea Into a Thriving Business by Michael Gerber
  • Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson


This article appears in the spring 2024 issue of On Call magazine.

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