At early ages, students Ryan Rademacher and Holt Tripp knew they wanted to be a part of the veterinary profession. While the two met this past summer through an externship, they share similar passions and aspirations. Their goals are to combine their passions for veterinary medicine and agriculture into, ideally, future feedlot consulting careers.

Rademacher and Tripp aren’t alone in their early interest in rural veterinary medicine. Nearly 40 percent of respondents in the survey, Why Veterinarians Enter Rural Veterinary Practice in the United States, told researchers they developed an interest in a rural veterinary profession before eighth grade.

This study, and its companion study, A Survey of Reasons Why Veterinarians Leave Rural Veterinary Practice in the United States, was a combined collaboration of veterinary college researchers in Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and Iowa. The published results offer insight for rural veterinary practice owners and employees and the sustainability of these businesses within rural America.

In the study, more than half of veterinarians interested in rural practice indicated they had relatives with farm backgrounds who were influential in their career choice. Relative influence rated even higher than parents, rural veterinary mentors and veterinary school. Farm and livestock backgrounds were frequently a factor in why men, especially, chose rural veterinary practice over urban.

“There are a lot of reasons we’re all attracted to the rural form of practice,” Tripp points out. “When you grow up around the veterinary community—especially the agricultural side—you start to gain an appreciation for the fact it’s not only a way to mix your passions for agriculture and veterinary medicine, but it’s a way to give back to the agricultural community.”

Tripp, who is originally from Shelbyville, KY, but lives in Stillwater, OK, is the son of an equine practitioner practicing at Churchill Downs. Rademacher will also be a second generation practitioner. His father is a partner in a rural mixed animal practice in Hermiston, OR.

Rademacher attends Oregon State University, Corvallis, and enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine. “ I’ve always had a strong passion for the beef industry,” he says, through herd work with his dad and work experiences on a friend’s farm.

As a third year veterinary student, he also really enjoys economics of business. “I like the fact bovine medicine is more from a herd health standpoint. You can help producers make animal health decisions that are not only going to be good for the health of the animal, but also help them be more profitable,” he relays.

Tripp is a second year student in a dual DVM-MBA degree program at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University. His family’s participation in the beef business further confirmed his interest.

“I always knew that I would enjoy beef cattle, but I really found that to be my passion in seventh or eighth grade. I thought long before that I wanted to be a veterinarian,” he assures.