Exploring A Passion for Rural Medicine

Tori Chambers, a third-year veterinary student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), has a passion for rural veterinary medicine.

Her experience this summer working for four weeks as an extern at Quitman Animal Clinic, a rural mixed animal practice about an hour north of Tyler, has only strengthened her desire to spend her veterinary career in a rural area.

Chambers’ interest in rural medicine comes from her desire to serve the needs of rural American pet and livestock owners, especially because of the shortage of veterinarians in many rural parts of the country.

“A lot of people in rural communities don’t have access to veterinary care, so if you can join an established practice and provide that, you’re impacting a lot of people really substantially,” she said. “There’s definitely a need for veterinarians in rural communities to provide that service for people so they don’t have to drive 30 minutes or an hour to receive medical care.”

Living in an apartment above the clinic, Chambers was able to fully immerse herself in the role of a rural veterinarian while being constantly on call for any cases that came in.

“The doctors would take me in the room for the physical exams, and then I’d do my physical exam and share my findings with them,” Chambers said. “They’d confirm what I saw and add some things. It helped me realize what parts of my physical exam were lacking and what things I had skipped over, so it was good to work on those skills.

“They would also go through blood work with me and say, ‘All right, what are your thoughts?’ Or they’d grill me, ‘What are your top differentials (diagnoses) for this? What would you do?’” she said. “As I was there longer, they had me thinking up treatment plans for how I would treat (cases) and what dosages I would use.”

Along with physical exams and lab work, Chambers got experience in a variety of surgery types and emergency cases.

“I was able to stitch up several lacerations and assist with some surgeries,” Chambers said. “I also helped work and castrate a bunch of cattle, which is really cool because I hadn’t worked with cattle before very much.

“Overall, I got the full spectrum of all of the different things you can do as a mixed animal veterinarian,” she said. “I even helped with some reproductive work that they did there. It was a really good experience.”

Working in the clinic also allowed Chambers to build confidence in her abilities to diagnose problems, develop solutions, and interact with clients and patients.

“It pointed out things that I probably should go back and study more and things to focus on in the coming semester, but the clinic staff were all pretty impressed with my case-management skills,” she said. “When I had 10 different ongoing clients, I was able to keep track of who needed what medicine and say, ‘Oh, hey, we still need to do X-rays on this dog.’”

Growing up in Longview with cats and dogs, Chambers’ love for animals began at an early age. When her family moved to just outside of Nashville, she also worked on a horse ranch to get more experience with large animals.

She attended Berry College in Georgia to study animal science, with a pre-vet concentration, and to participate in their equestrian program, before coming to Texas A&M to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian.

“I love horses and I hadn’t realized how much I missed working with them until I worked at Quitman,” Chambers said. “My husband and I both like the more rural setting, being out in the country away from the noise and traffic of the city.”

After graduation, Chambers hopes to join an established rural mixed animal practice where she can collaborate with other veterinarians and have the opportunity to form mentor relationships. Her time at Quitman Animal Clinic gave her a good idea of the office culture she hopes to find in her future workplaces.

“The best part of the whole externship was the culture there,” Chambers said. “They were very intentional about the kind of behavior and communication that they set up there. The technicians and the doctors had a mutual respect for one another, and they both valued the skills and roles that each played.”

Chamber’s externship this summer not only solidified her plans for her future career, but also helped provide her with the experience and confidence necessary to get there and to serve the needs of the people and animals of rural America.


For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Interim Director of CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216

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