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National Ag Day! Why you should care, Vet Student.

Posted by Cari Wise on March 15, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Cari Wise
Dr. Cari Wise is a 1999 graduate of the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a Masters degree in Education from Argosy University in 2015. Throughout her career, Dr. Wise has utilized her veterinary education in variety of settings including private and corporate small animal practice, shelter medicine, spay/neuter clinics, veterinary relief services, start-up practice ownership, and veterinary technician education.

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If you are like me, you probably didn't know that National Ag Day even existed.  

I feel a little ashamed to admit that considering my profession probably wouldn't exist if not for animals in agriculture.  

The extraordinary advances in veterinary medicine have pulled us away from our origin.  Veterinary students today are primarily female, and most veterinary hospitals serve only companion animals.  This is vastly different than the male dominated, production animal practices of the past, when the needs of companion animals were addressed as more of an afterthought.

The problem is that the need for veterinarians dedicated to the care of large animal patients and production animals has not disappeared.  Livestock continue to be raised for human consumption and products. Regulations surrounding the animal agriculture industry are more extensive than ever before.  We still need veterinarians to practice in this area.

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But, as our profession has evolved, and the vet student demographic has shifted, fewer new veterinarians are seeking large animal practice.  Why?  In reality, when compared to exclusive small animal practice, the hours are longer, the work is more physically demanding, the pay is lower, and there usually isn't an option to refer after-hours emergency elsewhere.  For most shiny, new veterinarians, this is not the life they want.

This being said, I urge you to reconsider, Vet Student!  Did you know programs exist to help you pay off your student loans if you commit to working in large animal practice for a period of time following graduation?  It's true!  I found programs in Missouri, Kentucky and Wyoming, as well as a USDA sponsored program, with a quick search.  I am sure there are others.  

These programs do not require you to commit your life to large animal practice.  Most programs are require three to six years.  As someone who grew up in a rural community, the daughter of a veterinarian in mixed-animal practice, I can tell you that what you can learn from these practices is invaluable.

In my experience, it's like a crash course in real-life veterinary medicine, effective client communication, customer service, and it usually comes with a seasoned mentor eager to share their wisdom.  Even if you don't decide large animal practice is for you long-term, the rest of your career (and bank account) will benefit from the experience.

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Topics: Career, Vet Student, Student Loans, Debt

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