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Purdue Vet School, Forty Years Later

Two weeks ago, I ended my post about Tippecanoe River State Park by describing our arrival at my classmate’s facility in Delphi, Indiana. Dawn provided a wonderful place for us to park our motorhome and we even had a water hookup. The horses hung out in an adjacent half-acre lot.

There had been several Purdue Vet School reunions held over the past forty years. I believe the last time I was able to attend one was our 30-year reunion. I am uncertain of how long it has been. I was excited to reconnect with some of the people with whom I had spent endless days, weeks, and years.

Those days, weeks, and years were spent primarily in Lynn Hall, the building in the feature photo. There was one building that housed Small Animal Medicine & Surgery, Equine Medicine & Surgery, and Large Animal Medicine & Surgery. We could walk from one area to another without ever leaving the same building.

All of that changed last April when an incredibly expanded facility opened its doors. This article written by PVM News states:

The new facilities are located just east of Lynn Hall, which has served as the home of the college since the first class of veterinary students enrolled in 1959. Lynn Hall not only houses academic and office space, as well as laboratories for teaching and scientific discovery, it also contains the existing Small and Large Animal Hospitals. The new facilities will replace the Large Animal Hospital and provide for expansion of the Small Animal Hospital.

Kevin Doerr |
Purdue Vet School state-of-the-art Equine Hospital

Alan and I tried to tour the equine facility. Apparently, a few years ago some drugs disappeared after a visitor tour. Now it is not possible to see the facility without an escort, and on that particular Saturday afternoon, no escort was available. I was disappointed. However, I suspect what we would have seen would be very similar to what we just encountered at the Colorado State University Teaching Hospital.

The article referenced above goes on to describe the state-of-the-art equine facility:

The new David and Bonnie Brunner Equine Hospital contains 73,000 square feet of space and will provide advanced capabilities to enhance diagnostics, surgical, and medical care. Additionally, the Equine Hospital will have its own Intensive Care Unit and dedicated space for Anesthesiology, Internal Medicine, Surgery, Outpatient Services, and a special Equine Theriogenology unit that will provide the latest in reproductive medicine and surgery.

My classmate Dawn shared with me that, while the facility was truly impressive, it was not without some oversights. Apparently, no space was allocated in the new facility for hay storage, so all hay was stored at Lynn Hall and moved over as needed. Additionally, the clinicians’ office space was still in the old building, requiring them to walk a somewhat significant distance between the two buildings. It was interesting to learn that clinicians’ offices at CSU also remain in their old facility. I don’t know if walking to your office in the winter would be better or worse in Colorado versus Indiana…

Catching up with classmates

I wrote about my years in vet school in a 4-part series published in June of 2019. In this post, I described getting a “pink slip” alerting me to poor performance in Anatomy and Biochemistry. I can still play a little video in my head… I was sitting across our anatomy dissection dog from my classmate, Terry. He confided that he, too, had received a pink slip.

Terry was at the reunion, and we had a good laugh over that memory. Of my 72 classmates, roughly 2 dozen were in attendance. Some came to the Friday night party, while others attended the Saturday afternoon tailgating and football game. Purdue won! The tuba player was snagged at the last minute to join our photo session! Everyone else in that photo is at least three times his age.

purdue vet school
The perspective of veterinarians today versus 40 years ago

There was a great deal of discussion about the state of the profession in 2022. I have already discussed the shocking shortage of veterinarians in a previous post. Many of my classmates were struggling to find collegues or to sell their practices for a reasonable amount of money.

One of the most interesting discussions revolved around the initial salary offered to a graduating veterinarian. This topic also surfaced when we were at CSU recently. One of my classmates told me that current starting salaries, at least in Indiana, are around $115,000 for a small animal position. He also said that new graduates have very different expectations than we did when we graduated.

My first job required me to start working the Monday morning after our Saturday graduation ceremony. In spite of my pleading for a week to “lick my wounds” after a very challenging 4 years, they wouldn’t budge. If I wanted the job, I would start that Monday. I did.

My classmate told me that it is different these days. Perhaps it is partly related to the profound shortage of applicants to fill the open positions. Today’s graduates want to take a cruise before they start. They have less loyalty to the practice, often leaving to take a different position within a short period of time and with very little notice.

My Colorado equine vet has been trying for quite some time to find an associate. The applicants that interest him have several job opportunities available to them. The competition is fierce. In spite of the incredible need, salaries for newly graduating equine associates are apparently woefully inadequate, at least according to the senior student I spoke with at CSU. However, when I researched it, starting salaries for equine vets are the same as or better than starting salaries for newly graduating small animal clinicians.

The bottom line is… when you have your equine vet out to your farm, be cognizant of the fact that a great deal of time, energy, and money went into that education. That equine vet could make a lot more money (at least in the long run) in a small animal practice, with a lot less driving and gas costs, and less risk to their health. In my recent post about the veterinary shortage, I cited a statistic that less than 2% of graduating veterinarians choose equine practice, and 5 years later many have already switched to small animal practice. Let your equine vet know that you appreciate them!

The reunion dinner, tailgating on a beautiful day, and a college football game.

A layover at Pike County Fairgrounds

We didn’t get moving terribly fast Sunday morning after the late Saturday night football game. We were on our way to Hillsdale State Park in Paola, Kansas, with a layover at the Pike County Fairgrounds in Bowling Green, Missouri. It was very windy for the majority of our 300 mile trip.

Additionally, we had an absolutely terrible time going west out of Indiana and accessing an interstate. While there were plenty of RV-worthy roads supposedly available to us, one after the other was closed. We would go west and be unable to go south, or we’d go south and the road west would be blocked. It was very frustrating. I don’t know how many miles we had to go out of our way before we finally reached the interstate.

It was when Kadeen exited the trailer at the fairgrounds that I realized we had a problem with his leg. Alan and I split the breaking camp chores. I am usually securing the inside of the trailer and getting the dogs harnessed and ready to roll, while he buttons up the outside and loads the horses.

I had phoned the person in charge of the fairgrounds at least once before we departed on our trip. I called her again while we were on the road. It didn’t appear that any formal arrangements were necessary for us to stay there overnight. No mention was ever made of an expected payment.

The fairground facility is not large. After walking around the entire area, I was not able to find any horse-sized stalls. There were buildings quite a distance behind the main fairgrounds, so perhaps that is where the horses were usually housed. However, there were electric boxes located very close to the arena. There was not another soul on the property. We decided to put the horses in the arena. We were sure to remove all traces of their presence before we left. It was quiet and very nice at this fairgrounds. We would definitely stay here again.

We spent 4 nights at Saddle Ridge Equestrian camp in Kansas. I had another prolotherapy treatment mid-week that derailed me for a day or two. Additionally, Kadeen was clearly on Injured Reserve… so we didn’t ride all week. I wrote a post about that camp last year, so there isn’t much more to tell.

We canceled our plans to go to Kanopolis State Park and headed home a couple of days early. I hope to get Alan there some day. My Facebook Memories news feed reminded me as soon as we arrived home that I was there in 2012 and 2013. Oh well, the best laid plans…

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