Internal and External Marketing

There are two areas in a practice that are targeted when marketing your practice. The first is internal; the second is external.

“Internal” deals with dissemination and promotion within your practice and to already-established patients. It includes things such as:

  • In-office patient referrals
  • Reactivation of old patients through letters and calls
  • Newsletters
  • Mailings to existing patients
  • Events, such as open houses and patient appreciation events
  • “Thank you” notes for referring patients
  • Welcome-to-the-practice letters

“External” deals with locating and reaching markets outside of your practice. It includes things such as:

  • Prospecting outside of the office for new patients
  • Advertising by using direct mail, yellow pages, etc.
  • Forming referral networks with other professionals
  • Having events and/or lectures for groups within the community

When starting out on a new marketing plan it is usually smartest, easiest and most cost effective to begin with internal marketing, as you have ready access to information about your current patients. Current patients are also more valuable because they are familiar with you and your practice.

Once you have an effective internal marketing program going, you can then look at what external marketing actions you want to do to potentially increase your stream of new patients.

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Search Engine Marketing –

Why Does SEO Matter More In a “Down Economy?’

By Lisa Thayer,

The question on many business owners’ minds today is “How should I market my company given the current state of the economy?” The short answer is by placing your marketing dollars in client specific, targeted advertising campaigns that have a built in accountability for measuring results.

In uncertain times, a business owner’s first reaction may be to reduce their overall marketing and advertising budget as part of a “batten down the hatches” mentality. That reaction is prevalent among companies that have experienced some reduction in business lately whether due to “the economy” or for a multitude of other reasons. While that response may give your CFO temporary anxiety reduction, before you know it she’ll be pestering you about declining sales figures.

Now is the time to step back, take a deep breath and make decisive, informed business decisions and steadfastly refuse to respond emotionally to the nightly news. Review both online and offline marketing endeavors looking for those that produce the best return on investment.

Search engine marketing can often produce a better ROI than many offline marketing endeavors due to the fact that spending can be controlled, results can be measured and you can easily make incremental changes to adapt to conditions as they continue to fluctuate. Online marketing also works for you 24/7 without accruing additional payroll expense.

If you stay the course, you may even be able to spot new opportunities and actually capture a larger segment of your market as others react instead of methodically planning a marketing strategy.

The best way to achieve optimal results online is to first have a qualified search engine professional review your website. It doesn’t do you any good to spend money to drive thousands of people to your website if once they arrive on your site the visitors don’t have a compelling reason to do business with you.

When it comes to search engine optimization and marketing “one size does not fit all”.
A good SEO review should advise you in creating “calls to action”, help to solidify your unique selling proposition, present solutions to rectify any design or usability issues, and even identify areas of weakness in your competition.

Once the SEO review is complete, you will be able target your specific customers and therefore be able to maximize your efforts and reduce your ad spend.

Lisa Thayer is owner of, a website design and marketing company located just south of Portland, Oregon. serves clients in 12 states across the United States. Lisa can be reached at (503) 783-0440 or by e-mail:

You can’t control the economy…

You can’t control the economy, but you can control your practice.

By: Ken DeRouchie

I have recently been interviewing doctors around the country regarding how the economy has been affecting their practice and what they have been doing to keep their practice financially viable. I have found that many of the doctors I’ve spoken to have simply shrugged their shoulders and accepted the down-turn in the economy. Many say there’s nothing they can do about the economy and, because of that, are producing less and making much less money. At the same time, most of them who feel this way have done little to nothing in terms of making any changes in the management of their practice to combat the exterior forces that are impeding the growth and solvency of their business.

This brings to mind an old saying: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten”. Simply put, if everything is changing around you and you don’t change and adapt with it, you will be unable to combat the external forces – very real forces – that are slowing or stopping your practice growth. It is imperative that if you want to continue growing in the economic environment that we are all experiencing, you must be able to adapt the management of your practice to the current state of your area, your local economy, the changing demographics of your area, etc. Most practice owners can grow in a booming economy. We’ve seen that during good economic times. But only those who have sound management skills, either inherently or through training, can adapt successfully to difficult times.

In August of 2007 I conducted a user poll on The Practice Solution Magazine’s web site in which 169 practice owners participated. The survey question was “The economy of the past 6 years has negatively affected my practice?”. 51% of the doctors answered :yes”.

I decided to follow this up with another user poll in November of 2007. 171 practice owners participated.

The topic of this was “When there are slow periods of the year, I …”.

46% of the doctors replied that [they] “live with it until it picks up again”

24% of the doctors replied that [they] “do extra marketing/promotion to make sure we don’t lose money”

16% of the doctors replied that [they] “schedule vacations at that time”

4% of the doctors replied that [they] “have a hard time making payroll”

11% of the doctors replied that [they] “wish there was something I could do to counter this”

You can see that only 24% of the doctors surveyed were actually doing something proactive to handle the slow periods! Obviously, you aren’t in a position to change the country’s economy, but you can , if you know how, make effective changes in your practice to combat slow periods.

Realize that the above surveys’ were conducted prior to the recent economic collapse. I therefore conducted a third survey in the last few months in which 71 practice owners took part. Since effective marketing of a practice is essential during poor economic periods, I decided to ask the question “On your new patient/client forms, when you ask the question “How did you find out about our practice”, what do you do with the answers?”

65% said [they] “Do Nothing”
1% said [they] “Enter it into a data base then nothing”
20% said [they] “Send a thank you card”
2% said [they] “Too busy to do anything with it.”
11% said [they] “Use this info for future marketing campaigns”

As you can see, only 11% were doing something useful with this vital data!

From these 3 surveys I conclude that:

  1. Many practices across the country are hurting from the effects of the economy.
  2. Most of them aren’t doing anything about it.
  3. When they are getting new patients in they don’t even bother to strengthen or further the actions that got those new patients in.
  4. The ultimate result of all of this is most practice owners that are completely the effect of the economic environment and not in control of their practice.

If this in any way sounds somewhat or a lot like what you are going through, read on. .

Things that you CAN control:

The following list includes links to articles written about specific areas in your practice that YOU DO have control over. If you are feeling a negative impact from the economy, I highly recommend that you hunker down and dig in. There’s a lot of ground to cover here but you will find this time well spent.. You do NOT just have to shrug your shoulders and “live with it”, you CAN take back control of your practice! These articles and others in this issue of Solutions can help you.

– Your appointment schedule – Cancellations/No-shows-rescheduled appointments

– Giving Great Service

– Marketing (internal and external)

– Staff efficiency

– Collections and Receivables

– Staff salaries and production bonuses

If you get in control over each of these areas in your practice you can very effectively “out create” the external forces that are negatively impacting your practice. If, however, you simply keep doing what you have always done and don’t change your operating basis, you will find yourself on a slippery slide with a crash at the end of the ride.

How to Survive Today’s Economic Time’s

by Shaw Millerman

Recently the President addressed the nation regarding the economic situation we are all experiencing in this country and around the world. It is very clear that we are now seeing the very obvious signs of a national recession, despite whatever spin may be put on it by the politicians from both sides of the aisle. We know now, because it is becoming very clear to diverse business owners everywhere, that the crisis is not just going to be limited to the finance sectors or the housing sectors. And we know that it is likely to get a lot worse before it gets any better and that it won’t be over for some time. The economic problems go deep and it could possibly be a decade before we’re able to fully recover. That’s a moderate time frame, not overly optimistic or the doomsday scenario that some would have us believe.

That’s what’s happening today.

We have worked with health care professionals for over 25 years and have gone through several periods of down economic times – some called them recessions, some called them “stagflation”, as well as a variety of other names. Whatever cute label one wants to attach to tough economic times, there is no fooling people with the fact that the economy in general, and their specific economic situation is far from ideal. And today, it is stated as being the worst economic situation since the Great Depression of the 1930′s.

What we have seen happen with stand alone health care professionals during a recessionary period such as this is that the doctor/owner “tightens up”. By this we mean that they usually get very worried, get “conservative” and reduce their promotion. They may start letting go of staff people and make do with fewer personnel. They often cut corners and consequently the quality of their service may begin to suffer. When the quality of service goes down patients become unhappy and start looking for another practice. They look for a practice that provides better service. Doctors who act in this manner will begin to lose some portion of their patient base. Thus it can make it a perfect time for doctors who don’t succumb to such thinking to capture more market share and increase their productivity.

Our clients generally thrive during recessions because they know what to do. They have learned how to manage their practice through objective means. They know how to effectively market without it costing an arm and a leg. We’ve been through three of these economic downturns/recessions and we’ve seen how our clients are able to take advantage of the situation rather than be the effect of it. In fact, as part of our surveying, we recently found out that, on average, our clients who are trained and skilled in practice management, have been increasing their productivity by 10% to 15% percent during those years the nation has been in recession. And this includes all socio-economic areas of the country. This type of growth is generally not true for the average practice owner.

Our clients thrive because they are able to prepare for down economic periods. They know how to closely monitor all of key areas of the practice and thus are in control of the practice. They know if they are understaffed or overstaffed, or if they have underutilized staff. Our clients have efficient systems that keep “busy work” off their desks. They don’t have a desk full of backlogged activities. They don’t give new projects to overloaded staff people. They make realistic plans based on objective data and don’t squabble with their spouses over finances. They hire, train, and monitor staff objectively and systematically and they have composed a business plan, marketing plan and financial plan they can refer back to and review and re-evaluate as necessary.

This is called running good control over your practice. And that doesn’t mean, as some people think, that it means not having fun at work or not having relaxed staff people or having people obsess constantly over profit instead of paying attention to people and service. It simply means that you know what is going on in your practice, that your staff know their jobs and work well as a team together and, because of that, you and your staff enjoy the work environment much more.

Objective systems are the component that allow staff people to remain calm and competent. When they know their jobs inside and out, it allows them to respond creatively to unique and unanticipated situations. It allows them to be calm and composed even when work backs up or the amount of office traffic could easily overwhelm them. Staff become accountable and self motivated because their work is measured by objective statistics. They are productive rather than just busy.

Prior to the current economic situation, we have seen a large percentage of practices and businesses supported and inflated by the bull markets. But this often was an artificial inflation, built on credit and people living outside their means. Now that credit is less available, it becomes obvious which offices have the infrastructure capable to handle the change. It isn’t enough to do the same old thing. Every income source must be maximized and must be maximized with the best interest of the patient in mind. Staff must be able to communicate the importance of delivering the highest quality of care without seeming to be solely motivated by profit.

Everyday we work with practice owners to put together plans and implement those plans. We do this so practice owners are able to grow and thrive in a sane manner, in economic uncertain times, and in a time frame that allows the creation of a stable infrastructure. Not only is this possible in these times but it is essential to your financial future.

To survive any activity, you must be trained and knowledgeable in that activity. You wouldn’t be an effective doctor if you weren’t adequately trained in your profession. The business environment is very tough right now. The fact is that your practice is a business and the better you are trained in the running of your business – i.e. practice management – the better you will be able to not only survive this economic crisis, but to actually be able to expand during these tough times.

Letter to the Editor – Sleep Medicine

Letter to the Editor
By David E Lawler, DDS, D. ABDSM
Bloomington, IN


This week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for an article in The Practice Solution Magazine by one of your research staff. As a result of this interview, I want to encourage you to step back and look at a different topic with a broader perspective.

You are a practice management magazine whose perspective should clearly be focused on that topic. However, there are opportunities in dentistry that are rarely looked at that, especially in these troubling economic times, should be more widely discussed.

The addition of sleep medicine to my practice of dentistry has been, not only the most rewarding professional thing that I have ever done, it has been a wonderful cushion in a time of economic down-turn. If the absence of pain, bleeding or swelling, a great deal of dental services are highly discretionary and can be delayed. However, people always need air and those people with sleep-breathing disorders have their air supply greatly reduced during the night as well as their quality of life during the day and their overall health. All they need is the proper information and a therapy that they can tolerate to accept treatment.

Last week I was asked to speak to the annual meeting of the Indiana Self-Insurers Association on the management of these sleep-breathing disorders with oral appliance therapy. This was a room full of people who are intimately aware of the cost of medical care. They were wide-eyed as I showed statistics showing the dramatic drop in medical costs associated with the proper management of these disorders. In addition, there were quite a few present that now know that the annoying sound coming from their bed partners as they sleep is the sound of these people fighting for their next breath.

Similarly, yesterday I spoke to a state-wide respiratory therapy conference at our local hospital on sleep-related breathing disorders like snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome and sleep apnea and their management with oral appliances. At the break following my discussion, I was surrounded by attendees at this conference who wanted to tell me that they now recognized in themselves or their spouses, the conditions that I had just talked about. These are people who are intimately and professionally familiar with the process of breathing but who were unaware of the many forms these disorders take that allow them to remain unrecognized. Similarly, there was a sizable number who knew they or a family member had a problem but were unaware that there was an alternative, patient friendly, therapy as a substitute to the traditional CPAP therapy that they could not tolerate.

These sleep-related breathing disorders are epidemic in our society, with as many as one in five adults having a sleep breathing problem significant enough to affect their health. Since these occur only during sleep, the vast percentage of people suffering from these disorders have no clue that they are affected. Occasionally a bed-partner will say something, but usually that is only to complain about the noise disturbing their own sleep. Even those people seeking regular medical care usually are undiagnosed, since only a very small number of physicians question their patients about sleep quality. Those people who are fortunate to get a diagnosis are routinely prescribed a therapy that as many as 50% refuse or fail within the first six months of use. Those who remain undiagnosed, or who are diagnosed and yet unmanaged because they cannot tolerate their prescribed therapy, go on to live shortened lives of diminished quality with medical expenses easily doubling those who are diagnosed and able to tolerate therapy.

Oral appliance therapy can offer life saving treatment to untold thousands of people if they only knew about it. Dentists would gladly add this therapy to their existing practice model if they knew how easy it was for them to recognize these problems in their existing patient base.

Sleep medicine is a very young field of medicine. Because of that, physicians are only now starting to connect the dots between these disorders and many of the problems that they commonly treat. What is necessary is more public recognition of these disorders and this is where I believe strongly you can play a role.

I was very impressed by the amount of time and the intensity in which researcher focused on his interview this week. I am fully convinced that he is more than qualified to develop this topic in order to give it the attention your readers deserve.

Thanks, in advance, for your consideration.

David E. Lawler DDS, D. ABDSM
Diplomate American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine
The Center for Sound Sleep
2909 Buick Cadillac Blvd.
Bloomington, IN 47401
812-339-6013 fax
Better health through restful sleep

The Second Step: Starting Your Surveys

Surveying is vital to any successful marketing campaign. Surveying takes the mystery out of anything because it enables you to get a very specific idea of what works and what doesn’t work when selling a product or service. It also helps you isolate your publics and enables you to find out more data about them.

Surveying comes in many shapes and forms. The definition of a survey is:

“SURVEY means ‘a careful examination of something as a whole and in detail.”

You might not know it, but you have immediate access to survey information from data that you have been collecting for quite some time. This survey information will tell you who your current publics are and, the great thing is, all the information is in your patient files.

If you have a computer database of patient information, gathering this data will be quite easy. If you only have physical files it might take longer, but is still worth it.

This action requires you to pull information from these patient records. To save time, you only need to look at your new patient files for the past few months as this should give you a good idea of your overall patient base.

Have your office manager collect the information from the files as to age, education, occupation, gender, income and location. This information should be laid out as a tally in different categories. Then put the raw numbers into percentages using the total number of patient files that were gone through. An example of what this might look like is as follows:

(One hundred patient files were used for this)


Under 10 – 8%

10-18 – 20%

18-35 – 30%

35-55 – 30%

55+ – 12%


Office Worker – 15%

Business – 26%

Educator – 6%

Service Industry – 13%%

Artists – 10%

Medical – 14%

Retired – 11%


Male – 65%

Female – 35%


Bonkersville – 70%

Sumner – 10%

South East Connerstown – 10%

Sheridan – 10%

Having this data will help you see exactly who you have as current patients. This data will help you target the areas that are bringing you the most business. For example, based on this data it would be valuable to send out a promotional piece that targets well-educated males in Bonkersville between the ages of 18-55.

Doing the above is not the only survey action you will do, but it is a fast and effective means of locating valuable publics for you to start targeting.

The First Step To A Successful Marketing Campaign: Research

To craft a successful marketing campaign for your practice you must first do some basic research actions that will start to isolate what your marketing plan and your promotional pieces will look like and what message they should deliver. The first step in your research is to work out what general mind-set and styles dominate your particular geographic area. Every state, city, town or area has its own mindset and styles that are unique to that place. If you have lived in the area where you practice, chances are you know the mind-set and general styles well. Additionally it is smart to check with others from the area to make sure your opinion coincides with the general consensus. If you are new to the area, ask locals as they generally have a good idea.

Some examples have been given below to give you an idea of what one might list as the mind-set and styles for their area.

Example #1:

      Mind-set: “Slow and steady pace”




      “Easy going”


      Style: Earthy.


      Lots of greens and whites used in colors.


    Old fashioned.

Example #2:

      Mind-set: “Efficient and Professional”




      “Straight to the point”


      Style: Modern and Edgy.


      Lots of blues used in colors.



Next, find out what the top three practices are in your area and find out how they market themselves. Doing this will enable you to see what marketing approaches have been successful for your area. Looking at your three competitors’ websites is a good start, as well as looking in the Yellow Pages, local newspapers, Valpak/ADVO, etc. to see how they are marketing. Look for what words they are using to sell people, what offers they are putting forward and what their designs look like.

The next step is to isolate what successful campaigns or promotional pieces you have created and used thus far. You want to look for any promotional pieces, slogans, brochures, ads, internal marketing campaigns, discounts, and word of mouth success that resulted in notable increases in delivery. Again, look at what words were used, what offers were being put forward and what the design looked like. It is also good to look at the general demographics of your area. A good website that provides this for free is: Gathering this data should enable you to get a good idea both of what worked for you and what works for other similar professionals in your area. It also provides you with a general idea of what people in your area like and will respond to.

This basic homework will provide you a foundation of information that can be used as you work out new marketing campaigns whether internal or external.

From the Editor

For starters, we wish to thank everyone reading our on-line magazine for the massive amount of help you provided in our continual surveying of practice owners. Our survey team was very busy last quarter calling all over the U.S. and Canada. The survey results were very interesting and helped us design the format for this issue of The Practice Solution Magazine.

Given the nature of today’s financial climate, it is not surprising that our survey team found that there is a great deal of attention on the ability of the practice to attract new patients and clients. Our surveys showed that 60% of the professionals we talked to do little or nothing to effectively market for new patients/clients. Therefore we have included in this issue several articles on marketing, with emphasis on internal marketing (rather than fancy and/or expensive advertising) and more specifically, doing effective marketing surveys to find out what your public needs and wants. Knowing the basics of marketing will help attract more new patients – something vital in these economic times.

We have also included a number of articles presenting viewpoints that we think are important for professionals to have during the economic slump we are all experiencing.

As always, we scoured the Internet newswires for profession specific articles that we thought might be of interest and use to our readers.

In the spirit of offering solutions to the everyday business of running a practice, I offer you the next issue of The Practice Solution Magazine.

Cory D. Radosevich
Managing Editor
The Practice Solution Magazine

Veterinary Medicine Contributes to New England Economy

Veterinary Medicine Contributes $3.3 Billion to New England Economy

Newswise – Veterinary medicine contributes $3.3 billion to the economies of New England-and the region faces a shortage of as many as 658 veterinarians by 2014, according to a study released today by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

The study-undertaken by the UMass Donahue Institute and commissioned by the Cummings School, the only veterinary school in the six-state New England Region-reveals that veterinarians and associated staff comprise over 20,000 jobs in the area. Moreover, for every 100 veterinary medical jobs in the region, an additional 59 jobs are created in related industries, the study indicates.

Clinical practice-providing medical services for household pets, farm and food animals, and exotic animals-represents the largest percentage ($1.1 billion, or 65 percent) of direct veterinary expenditures in New England, which total $1.72 billion. Scientific research and development-which require animal health and husbandry services to test new drugs and devices and better understand animal and human health-comprises the next-largest category, with a total of 23 percent of veterinary medicine spending and 14 percent of the industry’s total employment. Laboratory animal veterinarians are responsible for the welfare of as many as 2 million laboratory animals in New England.

The study also highlights a growing critical need for veterinarians in the region. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the study found that the region will have 1,036 vacancies for veterinarians by 2014, both through new job creation and retirement of an aging workforce. With an average of 60 percent of Cummings School graduates remaining in New England, trends suggest that 378 of the school’s graduates will enter the region’s workforce, leaving unfilled 658 new vacancies for veterinarians.

What’s more, the study suggests that the region faces a flood of retirements among food animal veterinarians. Over a quarter of the region’s more than 100 specialized food animal veterinarians will reach retirement age by 2014. With current levels of food animal graduates, the Cummings School will be positioned to replace only half of these vacancies. Overall, 43 percent of New England veterinarians are over age 50; by contrast, 56 percent of livestock veterinarians are over age 50. Until 2014, the study suggests, food animal veterinarians will retire at nearly twice the rate of their companion animal colleagues. With the critical role that food animal veterinarians play in protecting the nation’s food supply, this shortage is especially alarming.

“This study confirms the importance and economic impact of veterinary medicine in Massachusetts and New England,” said Deborah T. Kochevar, DVM, PhD, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. “Cummings School is proud to serve the citizens of this region by educating veterinary professionals, advancing biomedical research, and serving as a clinical and public health resource for animals and their owners.”

The study was supported by the Veterinary Medical Associations of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, the New England Veterinary Medical Association and InTown Veterinary Group. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., was the study’s lead industry sponsor.

“In order to best understand the health of the animals in New England, we need to understand the industry that cares for them,” said Dr. Christine Jenkins, Director of Academic Affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the study’s lead industry sponsor. “This study does just that-and we hope it sheds light on the growing need for veterinarians in the workforce to ensure the care and safety of animals in the region.”

The study also revealed interesting findings in each state of New England. Among them:

  • Massachusetts has New England’s biggest veterinary scientific research and development sector, with more than 5 percent of the state’s veterinarians specializing in this area. The state is the fifth-largest in the nation for research animals registered under the Animal Welfare Act and veterinarians support the work of a vital life sciences industry in the state. With 8,000 employees statewide and a total economic impact of $1.3 billion in 2006, veterinary medicine is an essential part of the state economy.
  • In Connecticut, $83 is pumped back into the state’s economy for every $100 spent by the veterinary industry, a multiplier of 1.83. For every 100 jobs in the industry, another 55 jobs in Connecticut are supported. Connecticut boasts a total veterinary economic impact of nearly $1 billion in 2006, the second largest in the region.
  • Maine has the nation’s sixth-highest rate of pet ownership, with 70 percent of households (376,000 homes) owning one or more pets. The veterinary industry represents an economic impact of more than $290 million in the state.
  • New Hampshire residents spend the second-most in the region on veterinary clinical services per capita, at $94. The state also ranks second in median wages for veterinarians, at $78,180. Every $100 of veterinary industry spending in the state supports another $74 of economic activity in the state.
  • In Rhode Island, veterinary medicine employs an estimated 1,110 people, including 189 veterinarians. The industry invests an estimated $81 million on payroll, operating expenses and capital projects, including over $69 million in veterinary clinical practice, $5 million in scientific R&D and $6 million in academia.
  • Vermont has both the highest rate of pet ownership in the region and the nation-74.5 percent-and the region’s highest per capita spending on veterinary clinical services ($97). Additionally, the state boasts the region’s highest rate of veterinary practice ownership (52 percent of clinical practice veterinarians are self-employed).

Several leaders from the biomedical industry in Massachusetts spoke out in support of the study’s findings. “In order for the biomedical and medical device fields to continue to thrive in Massachusetts, we must maintain a very high standard for ethics and care in our research divisions,” said Kevin O’Sullivan, President and CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives. “As such, veterinarians are our greatest resource, and provide a crucial element for the growth of the biotech sector.”

“The economy of Massachusetts is intrinsically linked with the growth of the biotechnical, pharmaceutical, and medical device sectors-and without a ready supply of veterinarians to oversee the clinical trials for these industries, the growth would be stifled,” continued Thomas J. Sommer, President of MassMEDIC. “The Commonwealth has a great resource in the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine-not just as a excellent training ground for the next generation of veterinarians, but also as an economic incubator for small biomedical start-ups. This study brings the contributions of the Cummings School and of veterinarians in general to light.”

“The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is an essential resource for the Massachusetts life sciences super cluster,” said Robert Coughlin, President of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. “The close proximity of this global leader in veterinary medicine is another reason why so many companies and institutions find Massachusetts the best place in the world to do business.”

About the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Founded in 1978 in North Grafton, Mass., the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University is internationally esteemed for academic programs that impact society and the practice of veterinary medicine; three hospitals that treat more than 28,000 animals each year; and groundbreaking research that benefits animal, public, and environmental health. The school has secured more than $23 million in NIH funding to build a level-3 Regional Biosafety Laboratory for work with infectious disease organisms, the anchor tenant of a life sciences industrial development known as Grafton Science Park.

© 2008 Newswise. All Rights Reserved.

NC State Offers Canine Bone Marrow Transplants

Newswise – Dogs suffering from lymphoma will be able to receive the same type of medical treatment as their human counterparts, as North Carolina State University becomes the first university in the nation to offer canine bone marrow transplants in a clinical setting.

Dr. Steven Suter, assistant professor of oncology in NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, received three leukophoresis machines donated by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Leukophoresis machines are designed to harvest healthy stem cells from cancer patients. The machines are used in conjunction with drug therapy to harvest stem cells that have left the patient’s bone marrow and entered the bloodstream. The harvested cancer-free cells are then reintroduced into the patient after total body radiation is used to kill residual cancer cells left in the body. This treatment is called peripheral blood stem cell transplantation.

The machines, once used for human patients, are suitable for canine use without modification, as bone marrow therapy protocols for people were originally developed using dogs.

“It’s not a new technology, it’s just a new application of an existing technology,” Suter says. “Doctors have been treating human patients with bone marrow transplantation for many years, and there have been canine patient transplants performed in a research setting for about 20 years, but it’s never been feasible as a standard therapy until now.”

Canine lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer in dogs, but the survival rate with current treatments is extremely low. Peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, in conjunction with chemotherapy, has raised human survival rates considerably, and it is hoped that dogs will see the same benefits.

“We know that dogs who have received bone marrow transplants have a cure rate of at least 30 percent versus about 0 to 2 percent for dogs who don’t receive the transplants,” Suter adds. “The process itself is painless for dogs – the only thing they lose is a bit of body heat while the cells are being harvested.”

Contact Information

Tracey Peake, News Services, (919) 515-6142 or

© 2008 Newswise. All Rights Reserved.