Calling Rural Veterinarians
Rural veterinarians are an enormous asset to a community, said Dr. Veterinarians are critical in helping with not only animal health but also food safety, public health, education and military services, said Biggs, who is an alumna of the Ferguson College of Agriculture and OSU-CVM. “Agriculture is one of the top industries in Oklahoma,” Biggs said. A recent shortage of rural veterinarians has brought challenges to rural Oklahoma, Biggs said. “We have to figure out how to help students get into veterinary school and how to help them be successful after graduation," Hall said. In 2021, 718 students applied to OSU’s veterinary medicine program, and 106 were accepted. OSU-CVM has implemented programs to allow veterinary medicine students the ability to gain hands-on experience as well as networking and job opportunities with an emphasis in fostering sustainable veterinary practices, Biggs said. “OSU’s Integrated Beef Cattle Program is a cross-disciplinary partnership across veterinary medicine, animal science, agricultural economics and extension,” Biggs said. Will Shelby, 2021 OSU animal science alumnus and first-year OSU veterinary medicine student, has taken advantage of the scholarships and programs offered through the OSU-CVM.
This year, up to seven Oklahoma veterinarians could be nominated for the loan repayment program, Hall said. Oklahoma is one of the states with the greatest number of nominations for the program, he said, and officials encourage a multitude of different veterinary practices to apply for this program. “The people in rural Oklahoma who are being successful at hiring veterinary associates are beginning to understand that they’re going to have to pay more and give some benefits to graduates,” Hall said. One recent OSU veterinary medicine alumnus has already made strides toward a debt-free veterinary medicine career, Biggs said. “An alumnus in our program has been out for two years with a six-figure debt and has already paid that back,” Biggs said. Supporting veterinarians and aspiring veterinarians is a task that relies on community support, Biggs said. “If I ask a grade-school class, ‘How many of you would be interested in being a veterinarian?’ there’s always a lot of hands,” Biggs said. In Oklahoma, multiple families have a long line of veterinarians, Biggs said. Shelby also had strong veterinary role models throughout his life, he said, including his father, Dr.
Will Shelby, who grew up in Madill, Oklahoma, said veterinarians make a difference through their work with rural communities and as advocates for the agricultural industry. “I believe that to cattle producers, especially in a rural area, having a good veterinarian they can plan with and come together with is really vital to their successes, especially since cattle producers work on such tight margins,” Will Shelby said. The relationship between veterinarians and their clients is similar to a partnership, Biggs said. Supporting rural veterinarians sets off a chain reaction of helping a long list of small businesses, she added. “As a rural veterinarian, you automatically are considered an upstanding citizen,” Hall said. Serving the rural community as a veterinarian can be a privilege, Will Shelby said. Current veterinarians and aspiring veterinarians must know their boundaries and when to say no, McCraw said. “You can really make a difference as a veterinarian,” Will Shelby said.
Read full article at Oklahoma State University