Farm Talk

December 11, 2012

Busy mom and talented musician is vet on wheels

by Frank J. Buchman
CNHI

Parsons, Kansas — “I’m on the way to a basketball game now, and I have to sonogram miniature donkeys in the morning. Give me a call back.”

Fortunately, there were no music lessons, or guitar concerts, to give in that 14-hour schedule, but likely another call would come for animal health treatment, before this veterinarian had time to talk.

First and foremost, Dr. Patricia Schroeder is a wife and mom of two high school students. While it sometimes intrudes on family, her profession comes second, and her lifelong-demanded musical-talents get third billing.

“I’ve played the guitar since I was six-years-old. I’ve always been involved with vocal and instrumental music,” Schroeder reflected.

“But, I was a 4-H member 11 years, showed cattle and developed a special interest in animal health,” she admitted.

“In the seventh grade, I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian and never changed my mind,” continued Schroeder, who was raised on a Seward, Nebraska, farm.

Yet, accomplishing what may have then seemed a childhood fantasy took a lot of different paths, and considerably more time, than one would imagine.

Today, Dr. Patricia Schroeder has her own successful, but unique practice, All Around Veterinary Service, at Council Grove.

“I have a mobile clinic, so I can travel to wherever patients need me at any time.” explained Schroeder, who started shortly after completing her doctor of veterinary medicine degree requirements at Kansas State University.

Schroeder and her husband, Mark Leydig, and their children, Layton, 17, and Matyson, 16, live on a ten-acre farmstead in the Four Mile community.

After graduating from high school in 1980, Schroeder never faltered from her teenage dream. She graduated as a registered veterinary technician, which included an associate degree in applied science, from Colby Community College, where she met her future husband.

“I worked as a technician for several veterinarians, but decided to go ahead and get my degree in music education at Fort Hays State,” related Schroeder, who then was a substitute teacher and offered instrumental and vocal musical lessons.

 However, she still continued as a vet technician in a mixed practice, for seven years, after marrying Mark, who graduated in agriculture from K-State.

“Then, I was a stay-at-home mom four or five years, but I still had the desire to become a veterinarian,” Schroder insisted.

“When Mark became an agriculture loan officer at the Farmers & Drovers Bank in Council Grove, our home was close enough that I could commute to vet school at nearby K-State,” said Schroeder, who graduated in 2005.

Considering moving “back West” at that time, the family had “fell in love with the Flint Hills. But, I still wanted my own practice,” the veterinarian emphasized. “However, with expenses we had for my education and raising our family, a ‘brick-and-mortar structure’ was more debt than we wanted to incur.

“While they aren’t very common, I had seen mobile clinics, so we decided that would work well for me,” Schroeder continued.

After practicing a few months from her family vehicle, Schroeder got the new veterinary clinic-on-wheels. Powered by a Ford F450, her 28-foot unit, with an extra-supplies-box on the back, is really a complete hospital.

“I have everything I need right with me when I travel to a patient. There are x-ray equipment, sonogram, lab and surgery facilities. You name it,” Schroeder said.

“It’s all paperless. Everything is done digital and recorded on the computer,” she added.

Ready and willing to go upon call to her cell phone at any time, Schroeder noted, “There has been a very high acceptance of this convenient service. But, a lot of my clients still prefer to come to me, saving travel charge.”

So, facilities were constructed at their home, so she can treat a few head of large animals, when that service is requested.

“The van is still my office, and small animal hospital. I’ve even had llamas and goats in here,” related Schroder.

Serving large and small animal health needs, Schroeder recognized, “It is seasonal; more large animal work in fall and spring. Overall, I’d guess 60 percent of the practice is small animals.

“It is interesting the number of exotic animals. I’ve treated many handheld pets, birds, skink, ferrets, alpacas, lots of unusual creatures,” commented Schroeder, who makes scheduled visits in Alta Vista and White City, the first and second Wednesdays of each month, respectively.

On call for her colleagues across the state, Schroeder said, “I also cover for several veterinarians so they can get away from their practice a few days.”

And, she occasionally gives vocal and instrumental lessons, and assists with community musical events.

Not yet following her veterinary or musical interests, “Our children are excellent students, do very well in athletics, and Matyson is involved in dance,” Schroeder said.

For her future, the traveling-veterinarian calculated, “I’m pretty obsessed with my veterinary profession. I’m flexible to help whenever there are animals needing my services.” £