How to Start a Veterinary Relief Business Part 2

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  • Create a contract that defines yourself as an independent contractor - working with a contract lawyer is ideal to ensure in case of emergency your contract protects you, but even just a general list of written guidelines can be sufficient.
    • Include the hours you will work, lunch break (specify if paid/unpaid), overtime, travel time compensation, hotel if traveling far
    • Don't forget to add a cancellation clause (standard is the clinic has to provide 30 days advance notice of cancellation otherwise will be charged a partial amount or the full amount of the shift if last-minute)
    • Specify that you will practice within the scope of medicine of the clinic and generally accepted standard of care but you have discretion on how emergencies, transfer or surgical patients are handled
  • Both parties (you as the provider and the clinic) should sign and date prior to starting work there

Liability Insurance

  • Make sure you carry your own liability and license defense (AVMA PLIT or other) that travels with you (not attached to your full-time clinic)
    • Carrying a license defense rider through AVMA PLIT is also a good idea
    • This is also a taxable deduction as a business expense
  • Compare policies here
  • Notifying clinics that you carry your own insurance is a key selling point and you can advertise it on your personal website at

Other Insurance

  • Long-term disability insurance is highly recommended if you are not yet financially independent.
    • Own-occupation is ideal and determine the lowest income you want to protect to keep it cheaper.
    • Even if you have no dependents that are relying on your potential future income, YOU will need to rely on it so it’s worth protecting.
  • Life insurance if you have dependents that will need benefits if you can no longer support them financially is also worth considering

STEP 4 (2 hours):

  1. Name your business

You can create your own business name or just use your own name as the business, creativity is up to you!

Be sure to check first and make sure it is not already taken

  1. Decide if you will be registered as a limited liability company (LLC) or a sole proprietorship:
  • Sole proprietorship is less expensive to maintain and simpler, however it does not allow for certain high-capacity tax-deferred retirement plans (i401ks)
  • PLLCs convey the benefit of limiting your personal liability in case of lawsuits, your personal financial assets are protected and therefore cannot be sought in damages
    • Register for a professional LLC (PLLC) in your state of work
    • An important distinction for doctors is that this does not protect you from malpractice claims - that is why you have liability insurance (see step 3
  1. Apply for a business license in your state(s) of work

  2. Apply for city licensures in areas you plan on working, if applicable (since relief work inherently involves some travel, it might mean 3-6 cities/towns other than your own)

  • You will pay a slightly higher fee to work in cities that are outside your home address/business address

  • The fees are generally dependent on the income you have produced or expect to produce in those areas - which helps minimize costs you if you don’t do lots of work in that area throughout the year

Washington state allows you to add city licensures from your business landing page on your Department of Revenue account

Continue reading this series.

This material is intended for educational purposes only, please seek professional advice for recommendations specific to your situation.