Rural and Large-Animal Vets Declining in Oklahoma - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Rural and Large-Animal Vets Declining in Oklahoma

A shortage of rural and large-animal veterinarians in Oklahoma has state lawmakers considering initiatives to lure graduates to practice in outlying parts of the state. KTEN's Andrea Kurys has the story.  

The House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee considered proposals to help re-pay student loans for vets who move to rural areas, and gain low-interest loans to help them establish large-animal practices.     

Local vets in Ardmore say the decline could be the result of more women applying  and enrolling in vet schools. Women tend to prefer living and working in urban areas with small animals.

Combine that fact with the average 70-thousand dollars in debt that most students graduate with...and local vets say its easy to see why there has been a steady decline in numbers.Large-animal vets earn about 50-thousand dollars after a few years of experience, and their loans can loom for years.

Dr. Doug Aldrige works at Westwood vet clinic in Ardmore. He says if the proposals pass, they could help bring vets back to rural Oklahoma. "I think it's certainly going to help. I know if I had 100 thousand dollars debt and somebody was willing to pay me and I was wanting to be a large animal vet anyway, it might influence where I went. I don't know, it's a hard question but I think it's a good step."     

Dr. Aldridge chose to practice in Ardmore because he grew up in the area. Some vets say more reasons for declining numbers could be because of the long hours and on-call demands of the job.  

Andrea Kurys, KTEN News.