For these fourth-year veterinary students in the food-animal medicine track, practicing in rural areas is all part of the plan.
Texas A&M fourth-year veterinary student Lauren Thompson showed livestock from the age of 8 in her hometown of Grandview, Texas, and knew she wanted to become a veterinarian when she got her first horse at the age of 6.
Equine medicine interested Thompson at first, but her undergraduate courses in animal science at Texas A&M University changed that for her.
“I got really involved in meat judging and nutrition,” Thompson said. “Initially, I thought I wanted to work on horses, until I got into undergrad and realized that cattle were my passion.”
Thompson’s motivation to become a food-animal veterinarian for cattle specifically draws on her passion for feeding the world.
“Cattle are going to be a key provider of that,” Thompson said. “Just seeing how I can play a role in meat science and nutrition aspects, in order to make sure that our future population has wholesome and safe and affordable protein sources, has really solidified my passion for wanting to do it.”
Relationships, professional and personal, also motivate Thompson to reach her goals in veterinary medicine.
“Going through all of my animal science courses, and having all of the professors in the department mentor me, made me realize that those are the people I love to be around,” Thompson said. “It’s just mainly the people.”
Thompson hopes to return to her rural roots after graduation and practice veterinary medicine.
“I could see myself doing both (large animal or mixed animal practice),” Thompson said. “I want to be in a rural area because I grew up in a small town. That’s just where I feel like I belong.”
Growing up on his family’s cow/calf and stocker production in Gillespie County, Texas, Texas A&M fourth-year veterinary student Charles Lehne recognized the need for more veterinarians in rural areas.
A Fredericksburg native, Lehne said his family often had a difficult time finding an available veterinarian when he was working his show cattle.
“There’s a lot of places where it’s hard to find a vet to get there to work cattle or help you with a problem,” Lehne said. “It’s oftentimes hard to find one on call.” He hopes to be part of the solution to that problem by specializing in feedlot medicine or focusing on reproduction.
“I’m really interested in embryo transfer,” Lehne said. “That would hopefully be my main focus, eventually, but it’s going to take awhile to get there.”
Lehne’s ranching and showing background motivated him to become a veterinarian.
“My passion for the cow/calf production system pushed me to do food animal,” Lehne said. “I come from a ranching background, and I hope to go somewhere in a rural community to focus my efforts where there’s a lot of cattle.”
When fourth-year veterinary student Brent Hale was young, he raised and showed beef cattle at local and county shows around his hometown of Dayton, Texas.
“That made me realize that I wanted to work with animals for the rest of my life,” he said. “Being young and unaware of all of my options for working with animals, my first thought was becoming a veterinarian.”
Luckily, one of the local veterinarians in Dayton is a family friend, so when he got to high school, Hale began shadowing at the clinic and found that he loved everything about veterinary medicine.
Now, at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), Hale is on track to practice food animal medicine following his graduation. In fact, he’s already received an offer to return to his hometown and work at a mixed animal clinic.
“The more experience that I gain in veterinary school, the more I realize that I keep going back to my roots of food animal medicine, as far as my main interests are concerned,” he said.
Contact Information: Megan Palsa, Executive
Director of Communications, Media & Public Relations, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; firstname.lastname@example.org; 979-862-4216; 979-421-3121 (cell)
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of CVM Today magazine.