Two years ago when Jacey McDaniel (right) graduated from vet school and moved to western Kansas to practice, she couldn’t have imagined the challenges she would face. Last fall, McDaniel’s boss, Kristina Booker, passed away unexpectedly of a pulmonary embolism at age 42. Booker owned the two-vet mixed animal clinic in Oakley, did most of the cattle work, and had been working long days at the local sale barn before she died. Now McDaniel, who was mainly doing companion animal work before Booker’s death, had to keep the clinic running and handle the cattle work. On top of that, McDaniel and her husband, Sam, had their first child in October.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” says McDaniel. “Mixed practice is tough. Out here in western Kansas, there isn’t much around, and vets are hard to come by. Finding someone who wants to live in the middle of nowhere and have such a demanding schedule is hard.”
With the help of relief vets who come in once a week or so, she is surviving. “The community has been helping to keep it going,” says McDaniel. She is grateful to her technicians, office staff, and kennel help. She recently purchased the clinic from Booker’s family.