Veterinarians Rural Oklahoma
4:43 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

New Animal Doctors Facing Tough Financial Future

KOSU's Chloe Charlton reports

In a couple of weeks, more than eighty students are graduating from Oklahoma’s Veterinary School as doctors of veterinary medicine.

KOSU’s Chloe Charlton reports most of them are facing a bleak future, at least in the financial sense.

OSU’s new veterinarians face $200,000 in debt, and with the average starting salary hovering around $45,000, it could take decades to pay these loans back.

In 2008, Oklahoma’s state government agreed to supplement a federal program, encouraging OSU graduates to practice large animal medicine in rural communities.

Since it passed, however, the legislature has failed to fund this project, essentially making the project nonexistent.

Representative Brian Renegar explains that it wasn’t always this dire for Oklahoma veterinarians.

”Whenever I was going to veterinarian school, of the funds that it took to put a veterinarian student through, about 52% came from the state of Oklahoma, and then some of it came from the federal government and then our tuition and everything. But, guess what, it’s 17% now.”

To pay off their massive student loans, today’s veterinary graduates are taking jobs in urban areas that pay better, and many are leaving the state.

So without funding for a program like this, it’s many of Oklahoma’s rural communities that are paying the price.