Dr. Becky Funk graduated from Kansas State University in 2007 with both her DVM and Master’s Degree. She is currently in practice with the Rushville Veterinary Clinic in the Northern Panhandle of Nebraska, a three-doctor primarily beef cattle practice.  She is an active member of both AABP and AVC, serving on the AABP Scholarship selection committee, and currently serving on the AVC Board of Directors as one of two Nebraska Region directors.  In her spare time she and her husband, Jason, chase around their two children, Riley, 9, and Cody, 7, to variety of 4-H and sports activities. 

What are some of the most satisfying aspects of your work as a veterinarian?

One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is the endless variety that it entails.  Every day is an opportunity to see, or do, or learn something new.  Cases that you never expect to see, and may never have the opportunity to see again, the things that keep us challenged and engaged.

I am also blessed to practice beef medicine in one of the best cow-calf areas of the country, where cattle outnumber the people several to one, but it is the people I have the privilege of working with every day that make my job so satisfying.  We have a variety of producers that range from seasoned veterans of the industry to young individuals that have returned to family operations to transition into ownership.  Despite the variety, the commonality that they all share is an overwhelming passion for the beef industry and deep pride in their cattle and their ranching traditions.  It is truly a privilege to be involved in their operations and provide their veterinary care. 

In a discussion with veterinary students, what would you say to guide them toward beef or dairy practice?

I think the key thing for students who are interested in beef cattle practice to know is that there are a good number of jobs out here for students who want to work in the industry.  The key word in that sentence is work… beef cattle practice on the high plains is just that, even with all the advances in technology and the science of bovine medicine, there is still a huge physical demand placed on the practitioner.  But for those students that are passionate about it, there is an incredibly rewarding career in their future. 

I greatly enjoy having students with me in practice, but I try to be very honest about the demands of my job.  I see great students coming out of school that have a phenomenal grasp of herd health concepts and plans to implement changes in producers’ protocols to make them more profitable and efficient, but I feel it’s unfair to them to send them into practice believing that the bulk of their work will be of this nature, the bottom line in our area of cow-calf practice is that there are hundreds of thousands of cows to get palpated every fall, thousands of bull to semen check before breeding season starts, and still a heck of a lot of cesareans every spring, and a good portion of our practice is frankly good old fashioned hard work.

My advice to students is to get out with practitioners in the areas where they are interested in practicing, and don’t just look for the neat cases, take the time to understand fully what their practice entails…the hours, the lifestyle, and the demands.  Ask questions of the practitioners that you trust to be honest with you, what would they have done differently, what’s the part of their job they enjoy most and least, ask them to discuss the economics of their practices both strengths as well as weaknesses. 

Most importantly, as practitioners, we owe it to students to be honest about our work, not only showing them the positive side of practice…but they need to see the other side as well, that way when we get those new hires they come into the industry loving it the way we do, warts and all. 

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