There are several qualities a person must possess in order to become a successful veterinarian: a lifelong love for animals, resilience to endure the long and emotionally taxing days, problem-solving skills to determine what is ailing a patient and find a solution.
And in this day and age, there’s something else a veterinarian needs to succeed: a high-speed, reliable internet connection.
“The internet is foundationally essential for a vet to work at the top of his game,” said Dr. Bruce Pedersen. “It’s as important as your stethoscope, in my opinion.”
Bruce is the owner of Watford City Veterinary Center, a full-service facility providing the McKenzie County area with medical, surgical, and behavioral care for both large and small animals. He’s just one of many veterinary professionals across the region who rely on internet service from RTC to provide their patients—and their owners—with the highest quality of care.
Dr. Bruce Pederson, Watford City Veterinary Center
A passion for animal medicine runs in Bruce Pedersen’s blood. His father was a veterinarian before him, and at just six years old, Bruce helped his dad deliver his first piglet. From that moment, he was hooked.
“It truly is the best profession in the world,” Bruce said. “It’s a job of passion. It is taxing, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Bruce brought his passion for animals to Watford City in 2012. The Bakken region was experiencing rapid and unprecedented growth, and with that came a growing need for veterinary services. A colleague in the region mentioned that Watford City Veterinary Clinic was seeking a replacement for Dr. Robert Nelson, who had run the clinic since it was founded in 1967.
“I came out on an exploratory trip, and after seeing the economic development and the local ranching community, it just seemed like a really good fit,” Bruce said. “It just took off from there!”
Bruce took over the clinic in 2012, and in the summer of 2013, he broke ground on a new 32,000-square foot state-of-the-art veterinary facility. Watford City Veterinary Clinic became the Watford City Veterinary Center in 2015, when doors to the new facility—then the largest in the state—were opened.
The facility combines modern medical technology with the compassionate care that the clinic has been known for for over five decades. The extensive list of services offered at the center include livestock services, small animal medicine and surgery, diagnostic imaging, and 24/7 emergency care, as well as pharmacy and retail.
Due to his rural location, Bruce relies on the 1 Gig internet he receives from RTC to stay connected to changes and advancements within the veterinary field.
“A textbook is dated when it hits the printer,” Bruce said. “If you’re not subscribed to the knowledge bases and utilizing them, it’s difficult to stay on that leading edge.”
His practice also uses the internet to consult with other veterinarians and specialists to receive second opinions on complicated cases.
“With the internet, I have this network of people each with their own piece of input,” Bruce said. “You’re not just relying on one individual’s knowledge anymore. It’s more of a team effort to collaborate and bring together the best options for any given case.”
For example, Watford City Veterinary Center can send CT scans to the local hospital for consultation, or deliver files to a radiologist they partner with in Arkansas. By consulting with specialists whose sole responsibility is to view and interpret these scans, Bruce and his team can ensure that they correctly diagnose and treat an animal’s ailment.
And these are not small files: many can be as large as 30 gigabytes. But with Bruce’s high-speed internet from RTC, they are delivered within seconds.
“They have those files almost instantaneously,” Bruce said. “That is really a direct benefit of the speed.”
Kathy Baber, Garrison Veterinary Service
123 miles away in Garrison, North Dakota, Garrison Veterinary Service is owned and operated by Joe and Kathy Baber.
The two are no novices in their field: Joe has been an acting veterinarian for 52 years, while his wife Kathy has been a veterinary technician for 45. Together, the two have practiced veterinary medicine across the country for nearly half a century, working in Kansas and Montana before landing in Garrison 22 years ago.
“Garrison is one of those towns that takes care of hometown businesses so well and they have always been very supportive of us,” Kathy said.
Their mixed-animal practice may be small, but they provide Garrison and the surrounding areas with a wide range of services, from surgery and x-rays to dental work and vaccinations. They have an in-house laboratory for bloodwork, as well as limited boarding services, and they offer referrals for any services they are not able to provide.
In her four decades as a vet tech, Kathy has witnessed an evolution in the field—and at the center of it all has been the internet. Previously, she had to wait for a quarterly journal to arrive in her mailbox to learn about any new tools or ideas; now, with high-speed internet from RTC, she can access new information every single day.
“Information is so much more rapid now,” Kathy said. “New ideas, new things, new products, are just instantly there for you.”
The internet also allows Joe and Kathy to communicate more efficiently with their patients’ owners, as all clinic paperwork is filed online. And while new technology comes with a learning curve, Kathy knows that RTC’s technicians are always there to help.
“I haven’t been raised with computers and technology, so sometimes it’s an operator error, but if we have any technical issues they are always happy to help,” Kathy said. “I can’t imagine practicing without the internet anymore.”
Dr. Kristi Pennington, Dakota Prairie Veterinary Service
When Dr. Kristi Pennington moved to New Town, North Dakota in 1998, the nearest veterinary service was 40 minutes away. Kristi, a Bismarck native who had moved to New Town with her new husband, a farmer from the region, took matters into her own hands.
“I started as a mobile large animal practice working out of my truck,” Kristi said.
Kristi continued her veterinarian-on-wheels practice for several years, making house calls to neighbors whose livestock were in labor or in need of medical attention. But as her number of patients grew, so did her need for a physical location to operate her business. In 2012, she opened the doors to Dakota Prairie Veterinary Service right on her farm, 15 feet from her front door. The establishment of a physical office has allowed Kristi to bring on employees (Dakota Prairie now has a staff of three) and expand her small animal practice.
While Dakota Prairie Veterinary Service has expanded to include small animal services, Kristi’s primary focus remains caring for livestock and food animals—a job she does not take lightly.
“Just like doctors are the front lines for human health, food animal veterinarians are the front lines for food safety,” Kristi said. “We have an important job. It’s not just pregnancy testing and routine vaccinations; the bottom line is, we’re protecting the food supply for the United States.”
Because her office does not have a haul-in facility, Kristi is still making house calls for large animal services. And because she spends so little time in her office, Kristi relies on an entirely cloud-based system to keep Dakota Prairie Veterinary Service up and running. Even when she is out on a farm performing a call, Kristi can access any files or information she may need through the cloud, right there on her phone.
This mobile practice does not come without drawbacks: due to travel time, Kristi is only able to take two to four calving calls a day, as opposed to a typical 10 to 12. Kristi cannot take on as many clients as a traditional clinic with a haul-in facility. What makes the drawbacks worth it, she says, are the relationships she is able to form with clients.
“After 20 years, I know their kids, I know their spouses,” Kristi said. “Yeah, we’re spread further apart physically, but we have a lot tighter connections in a small town. Small town life is all about connections.”
Our communities rely on veterinary professionals like Bruce, Kathy, and Kristi to care for our pets and protect our food supply, and they rely on the internet to make it all possible. At RTC, we are proud to support our local vets with the high speed internet they need, and the technical support to keep it running smoothly.
“Having that reliable, dependable internet and that support from RTC allows me to do my job of practicing medicine and not having to figure out which wire gets plugged in where,” Kristi said. “It allows me to spend more time with my patients. That’s what this job is all about.”