On the first Wednesday of every month, the family law office of Phillips & Peters celebrates Women Crush Wednesday! These are not sponsored or paid posts – just women business owners we love to support that are crushing it in Hampton Roads.
As a small business owner, facets of your personality will shine through the company you build, no matter what industry you’re in. Dr. Heather Brookshire is the owner and operator of Animal Vision Center of Virginia. As a veterinary ophthalmologist, she specializes in eye care treatment for animals so that they can see a better future to live full and healthy lives. In many ways, Dr. Brookeshire’s passion for health and wellness has allowed her to build a business that creates a better future for her clients, her employees, and the Coastal Virginia community.
Like many veterinarians, Dr. Brookshire had a love for animals from a young age. Growing up in Michigan she spent her time volunteering in animal practices and later started her own dog walking business. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Michigan, Dr. Brookshire went to Colorado State University to earn her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. It was during this time that she found her path in ophthalmology after one of her basset hounds was misdiagnosed and lost their eyesight to glaucoma.
Education, internships, and residency ultimately brought Dr. Heather to the east coast. During her residency training with Animal Eye Care and North Carolina State University she rotated through Virginia Beach, North Carolina, and the Maryland DC area. While she enjoyed the work, she was doing at the time she wanted the freedom to offer more. With a community of encouragement and support around her, Dr. Heather started her small business journey when a friend, John Koehler, bought her a web domain and made it official. With the help of her significant other, Christopher Ryan, and close friend/coworker and initial sole employee, Melissa Noblett, she was able to build a business team right at the beginning to take care of the essentials like bookkeeping, marketing, and advertising. This has allowed Dr. Heather to focus her time and energy on taking care of her patients and her employees.
“It’s tough because veterinary medicine doesn’t bring in the same figures as physicians do. Sometimes the team gets left behind.”
While several of us wanted to be veterinarians when we were kids because we thought it meant hanging out with puppies all day the truth of the matter is that it’s a tough field. Veterinarians have disproportionately high suicide rates with female veterinarians 3.5 times more likely to take their lives than the general population, according to a study by the CDC. Knowing the difficulties that come with her career path, Dr. Heather incorporates the value of wellness into much of her business. Her office is decorated with bright, calm colors and fun animal-themed prints. She provides a rich benefits package to her staff of seven that includes access to a health coach, student loan repayment, profit sharing and more.
“If you have healthy staff members, both physically and emotionally, then they’re going to be able to come to work more regularly. It just makes for an overall better life if you’re well in a number of ways.”
With a happy and healthy staff Animal Vision Center of Virginia maintains a company culture that provides top-quality care. As more veterinary medicine goes corporate Dr. Brookshire knows the value of owning her practice. With the freedom of small business ownership, she can give discounted examinations to military, first responder and senior citizen clients. Her office gives free exams for qualified service dogs all year round like the dogs that are part of CHKD’s Buddy Brigade. When local partners such as the Virginia Zoo or Virginia Living Museum need help, Dr. Brookshire and her team arrive promptly to assist. Her ophthalmic care isn’t limited to cats and dogs. She also treats horses and exotic animals. She has helped animals ranging from owls, eagles, lizards and wallabies, to a red world, rhino, tapir, bison, elephant, and all types of wildlife such as deer, opossum, skunks, and flying squirrels.
When looking to the future Dr. Heather Brookshire shares that she does have big dreams and goals of becoming more of a multispecialty practice. The practice recently added dermatology and will soon add an internal medicine specialist, among others as they continue to grow. Until that day Animal Vision Center of Virginia will continue to provide quality care for animals of all shapes and sizes so they can see a better life.