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Making Your Own Path

Sep 1, 2018

A Profile On Dr. Duane Landals

Having owned and managed a large veterinary practice for 35 years, Dr. Duane Landals has undoubtedly paved an important path in the veterinary industry, but his legacy goes back a long way.

Now retired, Dr. Landals was involved in clinical, mixed animal veterinary practice for 25 years. He also served as President of both the Alberta and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) and as Vice President of the World Veterinary Association.

“I don’t know why I choose to be a veterinarian, but back in grade school, myself and a friend had to do a career exploration. We looked into veterinary school and just carried on with it. I actually got a degree in agriculture first before going directly into vet school. I found it difficult to get a job in agriculture in the city, so that’s what led me to receive my veterinary degree. The big motivation for me was, of course, working with animals, but I also wanted to get into a career where I could live in the country and where I could work in a rural Alberta environment.”

Veterinary medicine gave Dr. Landals the opportunity to decide where he wanted to work and the ability to shape his lifestyle around his country roots.

“As a veterinarian, I could make my own path. I raised my family in the countryside, owned and lived on a farm and kept horses and cattle. The biggest benefit of the job is that my work supported my lifestyle,” says Dr. Landals.

Veterinary medicine is a challenging profession, but Dr. Landals says that negativity surrounding the field isn’t always as bad as it appears.

“I would do it exactly the same way if I did it over again. Veterinary medicine gave me the opportunity to have a good career, a good income and be well respected in the community with a position of stature. I don’t know what more you can ask for out of life than that.”

Throughout his career, Dr. Landals knew he wanted to help animals, but he also wanted to continue making a difference in the veterinary industry. His wife was the first person to apply for registration as an animal health technician in Saskatchewan and helped him establish a practice that had close to 50 employees and provided high-level service to equine and farm animals.

“Building those practices and eventually selling them was a huge accomplishment. Ultimately, veterinary medicine is about giving service to the animals and the people that own animals. I was extremely fortunate to work as registrar of the ABVMA and also manage my own business.”

Dr. Landals involvement with the ABVMA gave him the opportunity to get involved with veterinary medicine legislation changes, a legacy Dr. Landals is very proud of.

“It wasn’t me alone, but being engaged in the politics behind veterinary medicine was very meaningful. I strongly believe in supporting the growth and wellbeing of the global veterinary community. I took desire in those leadership roles and engaged in national and international practices in whatever capacity I could. If you’re not on the table, you’re on the menu. If you want to make a change, you have to participate with other groups that do what you do,” says Dr. Landals.

Having lived and breathed veterinary medicine his whole life, Dr. Landals is still extremely involved in his field. He has also done considerable work on veterinary pharmaceutical stewardship with various associations, including the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council, Canadian Working Group on Compounding of Drugs and the Canadian Ad Hoc Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee.

“I still speak with people in the industry, read magazines and follow social media. I get newsletter and email communications every day from a variety of veterinary organizations: The World Veterinary Association, OIE, American Veterinary Medicine Association and ABVMA just to name a few”.

Cognizant of industry challenges such as burn out, frustration and depression, Dr. Landals says there is always a solution to feeling better working in the veterinary industry.

“Vets and techs need to remember that everything you do does some good. You don’t have to look at the big things: heroic surgeries or big diagnosis’s. There are thousands of little things that still all make a difference. We talk a lot about burn out and work-life balance but I don’t like that term because it suggests you segment a certain part of life to be work, and another segment to be your life. That’s not true; they are blended together. When you how 32 days in a row without a day or a night off, you will get stressed out and frustrated, but you get past that. You get past it because all of a sudden, things slow down and you breathe and you realize you did a lot of good for your clients. If you can look at the good you do, it’s a whole lot easier.”

Just like IMLocum is on a mission to help people help animals, Dr. Landals is on a mission to help vets love the work they accomplish.

“Don’t spend any time comparing yourself to somebody else. With veterinary medicine, you get paid to perform your passion. I got to make my living with horses and cows, and I still play with my horses every day. Clients might be challenging, but they come for help and you get to help them. Your job is to find out what that person needs and communicate with them to get the job done,” says Dr. Landals.

In order to get more involved, Dr. Landals recommends branching out and taking new paths you might not have considered. Rather than spending time advancing technically, veterinarians should also engage socially.

“Go to a conference and engage with associations and the other bigger parts of our profession. You belong to a community that is globally the same. Everyone wants to take care of the animals, make clients happy, earn a decent living and have a good life. You are able to see more opportunities the more you expand and grow out of your narrow circles. So find larger circles and don’t be afraid to keep on expanding.”

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