Long before she started her DVM studies at Iowa State, Dr. Sandi Hayek was practicing veterinary medicine.
“When I was in high school, I was running the head catch on our manual chute on my parents’ farm in southeast Nebraska,” she said. “I was able to participate in vaccinations and treatment of our cattle.
“I was always ready to help pull a calf or when we had cattle with more involved treatments, participate in their care.”
Today, Hayek is continuing many of those same routines she did in high school, although at a much higher level. She is a veterinarian and part owner of the Countryside Veterinary Associates in Great Bend, Kansas, the practice she joined soon after graduation.
“This was an opportunity where I felt I could learn, develop my skills and be part of a busy, active practice,” Hayek said. “It has been a very rewarding experience to serve this community and be a part of a long-time practice.”
Countryside Veterinary Associates was established in Great Bend in the 1950s. Today it is a true mixed animal clinic. Hayek estimates they see about half companion animals and the rest large animals and exotics. A vast majority of the large animal clientele are cattle.
She describes the caseload has been very full and at times since she arrived in 2010 she has been part of a four veterinarian team. That’s not the case in 2021.
“We have the clientele and potential to have four to five veterinarians in this practice, but like so many other practices we cannot find anyone to work in a rural mixed animal practice,” Hayek said.
The result is that Hayek and her partner cover emergencies every other night. There are many evenings when she doesn’t finish her cases until 10 p.m. She says there just isn’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.
“I’m not looking for pity or sympathy, just trying to be honest,” she said. “Rural mixed practice can be extremely rewarding and I wouldn’t consider any other avenue, but we would sure love to have more associates join our practice.”
Still she enjoys the case load at Countryside Veterinary Associates even if it can be a little overwhelming.
“I enjoy the chance to help animals and connect with owners,” she said. “When those efforts are appreciated and we can make an impact, that helps to motivate me to keep coming in every day.
“Serving the community and making a difference in the lives of animals and their owners makes this a very rewarding career.”