Originally from rural midwestern South Dakota and a graduate of Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Rademacher has practiced mixed animal medicine in the same clinic for 28 years.

While he enjoys rural practice and his community, he realizes “it definitely is not for everybody,” especially from being on call to going from one species to another.

“People in the rural areas, they understand and accept that, and a lot of those clients become really good friends or basically family, so it turns out to be a win-win situation. But you never know when you’re going to be called. That’s going to be a lot of what keeps veterinarians there at work or sends them away.”

His take is similar to what researchers found in the study, A Survey of Reasons Why Veterinarians Leave Rural Veterinary Practice in the United States. A polling of 805 rural veterinarians (246 who left this field) listed emergency duty, time off, salary, practice atmosphere and family concerns as the top five reasons why.

Some 75 percent of those who answered the survey, but are no longer employed in rural veterinary practice, are considered seasoned veterinarians with more than 12 years in practice. Their next job after rural practice was in academia or urban practice.

Figure 3 outlines advice for practice owners from all who responded to the survey. Mentorship was most requested followed by salary and time off.

Though not addressed by the study, Dr. Rademacher points out the happiness of a spouse is another important retention consideration in rural practice.

“It’s not only the veterinarian, it’s also their spouse and whether they’re comfortable in a rural community,” he assures. “Is your spouse acquainted with rural areas? Or did he or she come from the city?”

To Dr. Rademacher and his wife, Anna, a rural community has been a great place to raise their family with little traffic, trustworthy neighbors and nearby hunting and fishing, something he and his son, Ryan, enjoy.

“We just feel so much more comfortable out here. It’s really what you’re used to.”