Mike Dyer ’89 MS, ’93 DVM hosts student externs in his Ohio and Kentucky clinics each summer, aiming to share what he’s learned as a veterinarian and as a student of life.
Mike Dyer ’89 MS, ’93 DVM applied three times to the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine before he was admitted. That experience — of rejection, tenacity and, ultimately, success — continues to shape him today.
Since graduating, Dyer has built a network of veterinary practices that comprises seven hospitals, three partners, 15 associate veterinarians and more than 100 employees. But Dyer never forgot the days when he struggled as a student, and it’s one of the reasons that he volunteers his time to mentor young veterinary medicine students.
“It’s really difficult for students, sometimes, to find a place that will not only take them in, but spend the extra time to really teach them quality veterinary medicine,” Dyer says.
Dyer hosts eight veterinary medicine students each summer in clinics in Proctorville, Ohio, and Ashland, Kentucky, as a part of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Stanton externship program. Working with Dyer has been transformative for students like Katie Dowling ’15.
She arrived at Dyer’s clinic in summer 2016, between her first and second years of veterinary school, feeling burned out and worn down by the previous semesters’ intense study, mostly from textbooks. Working with Dyer was a refreshing change of pace.
“When I got to go and help practice veterinary medicine and learn from some great professors, great doctors, it was really liberating,” Dowling says. “This is why I’m doing this career. I’m doing what I love.”
Beyond gaining the practical clinical experiences that are so hard to come by for young veterinary medicine students, Dowling also formed a bond with Dyer, saying he is “hands down” an amazing mentor.
“He is extremely patient, and he puts such an emphasis on education. Not just for the students that were there, but also educating his clients, helping to educate his staff, his technicians, even his receptionist,” Dowling says.
When she and her roommate were kicked out of their Proctorville hotel room for three days because it had been overbooked for a sports tournament, Dyer and his family invited the students to stay at their house.
“We weren’t sure what we were going to do, and [Dyer] and his family were so sweet,” Dowling says. “His wife cooked dinner for us, it was so nice, and we were just able to sit down and talk with him. And he’s a really inspiring guy.”
Dyer was born in Huntington, West Virginia, about 10 minutes from his practice in Proctorville. The proximity is no coincidence. After graduating, Dyer recognized that there was a need for veterinary services and education in his hometown and the surrounding Appalachian community.
“Being able to come back to my hometown has just been a real treat,” Dyer says. “We have a responsibility to have a positive influence on the community, I think, and I feel the weight of that.”
Dyer’s practice was selected to participate in the Stanton program because of his mission and because he’s established his practice in Appalachia. The externship program, which is one result of a $39 million donation from the Stanton Foundation, sends veterinary students to underserved communities. Animals and their human caretakers benefit from the extra helping hands, and students gain invaluable clinical experience.
“I tell everyone that I have students from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine and my clients just embrace that. My staff have embraced them,” Dyer says. “It’s just a win-win situation.”