The Growing Need For Rural Area Veterinarians
Usually when someone hears the word "veterinarian," one thinks of a person who takes care of our pets. However, there are veterinarians that specialize in agricultural practices for rural areas.
There are 30 schools in the United States that offer veterinary medicine programs. Only 5%-8% of these students from these schools join practices in rural areas with an emphasis on farm animals. According to Successful Farming, around 500 counties in the United States are "underserved by a veterinarian in 2019."
There are many reasons why rural areas have a high demand for animal care. One reason is due to high debt. Students must spend four years earning their undergrad degree before entering vet school. Becoming a veterinarian is another four years of schooling, and it's no surprise vet school is more expensive than undergraduate programs. New veterinarians tend to practice in populated areas in order to help pay off their debt.
Another reason is because larger farms have bigger expectations. Livestock farmers are invested in their product, and they want to provide their best quality of meats to their clients. It's mainly the veterinarian's job to make sure farmer's livestock is healthy enough to go through this process. This can put a lot of pressure on the farmer and the veterinarian.
My twin sister, Katie, is currently at the University of Illinois to become an agricultural veterinarian. Katie did not grow up on a farm. However, she does understand the need to take care of those animals who have limited access to treatment. Katie's passion for large animals will drive her entire career. Who knows, maybe she'll practice in South Dakota one day!