For the first years of their marriage, Drs. Ryan and Jacci (Hermansen) Fedeler were rarely in the same town together.
Now they are rarely apart.
“We worked separately for three years,” Ryan said. “No place we looked at had two job openings. We never had an opportunity to work together.”
That changed on Memorial Day 2013, when the two 2010 graduates opened the Heartland Veterinary Clinic in Brookings, South Dakota. Both see small animals, while Jacci has equine patients and Ryan sees livestock patients.
The two quickly slipped back into their days as DVM students where they constantly studied and worked together. And because they were building their cliental, they spent a lot of time together on-call.
“We had our first child the following September after we opened the clinic,” Jacci said, “and five days later he went on a farm call to see a lame horse with Ryan.”
“The first few years we were at the clinic all the time,” Ryan said. “We were on call seemingly 24-7.”
To illustrate just how much the Fedelers work together, Jacci relates the story of an after-hours emergency C-section on a dog.
“The client actually held our son while we were doing the C-section,” she said. “Anyone who called us, we would head back to the clinic.”
The on-call hours have changed, especially in the last year due to COVID. Heartland Veterinary Clinic has also grown to include a third veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Muirhead (’20), and a staff of 10, and the couple is looking to expand their clinical space as well.
That’s impressive considering the Fedelers started their clinic from scratch and only had one customer their opening day. Since then they have had to learn on the fly – everything from managing personnel to meeting a payroll, buying veterinary equipment and dealing with tax filings.
Working together has brought them even closer together. Both say issues are few and far between. Ryan does say Jacci tends to bring work home with her and always wants to discuss that day’s patients.
“On road trips, we generally talk about the office, about this case or that case,” Jacci said.
The couple’s skills also complement each other.
“What I’m not good at, Jacci’s good at and vice versa,” Ryan said.
“Having someone that I work with that I can truly trust in every way is invaluable,” Jacci said. “I know he is always doing his best and he’s not going to judge me on what I say or do.”