Rural Practitioner

Dr. Mike Burdett
Larned Veterinary Clinic, PA
Larned, Kansas

By Audrey Hambright

Dr. Mike Burdett of Larned Veterinary Clinic, PA in Larned, Kansas is fortunate to be a rural practitioner in many aspects.

Dr. Mike Burdett (left) is pictured at the Larned Veterinary Clinc with his daughter and veterinarian, Dr. Kristy Mull.

Dr. Mike Burdett (left) is pictured at the Larned Veterinary Clinc with his daughter and veterinarian, Dr. Kristy Mull.

Burdett grew up on a cow/calf operation and farm in Ness County, Kansas. His natural love to care for animals initially drove him to become a part of the veterinary profession, but working at a clinic during his two years at Dodge City Community College ultimately solidified his decision to apply for veterinary school.

After graduating from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1988, Burdett worked at the clinic in Dodge City then joined what was then named Apley Veterinary Clinic in 1989. When Dr. A.D. Apley chose to retire in 2002, Burdett purchased the practice and has now been at the Larned Veterinary Clinc for 26 years.

According to Burdett, the practice has been pretty evenly split between large and small animal clients. Of the large animal sector, the majority is beef cattle made up mostly of cow/calf operations.

Similar to other practitioners who serve in rural areas, working with the people is something that Burdett enjoys most.

“That’s probably the number one thing that draws me to rural Kansas and keeps me here,” he said. “I have the opportunity to develop relationships with people in the community that I don’t think you would have in the larger cities.”

As an added bonus, Burdett is also fortunate to work alongside his daughter, Dr. Kristy Mull, who joined the practice after graduating last year.

“It’s a really good experience,” he said. “We have a lot of fun and challenge each other to improve.”

During his time in the profession, Burdett has witnessed the change of the role as a veterinarian.

“Our role as veterinarians has shifted a lot from individual animal treatments to more herd medicine type philosophies,” he said. “What we can actually do to look at improving production, maintaining health and population animal health has made a definite shift.”

Burdett believes the animal activists will pose a challenge to the industry, but on the reverse side, it has provided a huge opportunity as well.

Dr. Burdett with calves

Dr. Burdett evaluates a set of calves.

“We have a product we should be very proud of in addition to our husbandry skills and how we care for those animals,” he said. “The opportunity is to share with the consumer the job that we do.”

In addition to sharing with consumers, Burdett also feels that because veterinarians travel to so many production operations, they should rise to the occasion and become a role model in animal handling.

“It’s an opportunity to talk about management issues that impact animal welfare and disease transmission and demonstrate those skills to people,” he said.

While his primary role as practitioner at the practice keeps him busy, Burdett also makes time to be involved in the local county fair association, participates in extension meetings and lends a hand to help with 4-H projects and programs as well as being an active member of the Larned Noon Lion’s Club. In recognition for his work in the community, he has been recognized with the 4-H Alumni Award and 4-H Friendship Award. The clinic was also recently recognized with the Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award.

Advice for the Future

For those currently working on their veterinary degree, Burdett advises students to become active in their education.

“Be aggressive once you get into clinical aspects of education and volunteer to take cases,” he said. “One day you won’t have anyone watching everything you do. When you are in school, people are there to help you with case management.”

As far as advice for new graduates, he suggests really looking at the job that they want.

“People really need to find a job they like to work at in addition to the whole concept of practice ownership vs. not having ownership,” he said. “There are a lot of advantages either way.”

And when it comes down to it, Burdett has taken his own advice.

“I feel really fortunate to have a job that I enjoy getting up and going to every morning. I think everyone should have that opportunity.”