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Q&A with a keynote: Christopher Pachel, DVM, DACVB, CABC
The inspiration to become an animal behaviorist, and a recent trip to Iceland are discussed
Since he was a small child, Christopher Pachel, DVM, DACVB, CABC, knew he wanted to be a veterinarian. Now, 20 years into his career, Pachel is a certified animal behaviorist who presents at conferences all over the world. During this Q&A with dvm360®, Pachel dives deeper into what he is like as a veterinary professional and what inspired his keynote address at the Fetch dvm360® conference in Kansas City, “Navigating Difficult Conversations: Client Communication With Compassion and Efficacy.”
How did you know you wanted to be a veterinarian?
I don’t ever remember having a time in my life when I was thinking, Oh gosh, if only I could be a—fill in the blank. I remember reading those animal stories, James Herriot, and a lot of the other sort of teenage animal fiction [like] Jim Kjelgaard and so many other authors that I remember from when I was a kid. [They] really had me connected to an animal caregiver role and, quite honestly, the pieces just fell into place.
What was the inspiration behind your keynote address at the Fetch dvm360® conference?
It really has to do with some of the experiences that I’ve had in my career. I’m going on 20 years of veterinary experience at this point and I’ve had certainly my share of cases that, well, didn’t exactly go the way I thought they would, either because of some aspect with the medical aspects of that case, or perhaps some of the client communication details or even some of my staff communication details that really challenged me to think outside the box or even to deal with some of my own frustrations. So a while back, I was working through a bit of a rough patch in my career, trying to figure out where some of the emotional angst was coming from, and I started keeping track of where that showed up for me within a variety of different cases and started to break them out into some of these categories that we’ll end up talking about within the keynote presentation, in hopes that that information is helpful to other individuals as well.
What inspired you to become an animal behaviorist?
Honestly, it was my clients. I was working as a general practitioner in a small animal practice in one of the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul, [Minnesota] and I remember having clients coming in, essentially every single day, with behavior questions that I didn’t know the answers to. I was curious about the answers, but I had to go digging. The more I dug, the more I kind of started thinking to myself, I kind of like this, this is actually kind of fun. I enjoy working through some of these questions. I really enjoy connecting with my clients and being a source of information and support. So that started what I refer to as the beginning of the end of my general practice career. As I started diving into additional continuing education at conferences like the Fetch series, I just dove deeper and deeper and deeper until I made that final plunge.
What was one of the most rewarding accomplishments in your career?
I’ve had so many amazing moments and they go from the micro to the macro, meaning I’ve had opportunities to be invited overseas to speak at national conferences in Iceland and in Australia. I’ve spoken at a couple of conferences in the United Kingdom, and I’ve been speaking around the world through webinars and digital platforms, and so on. On some level, I would say, that’s really a huge accomplishment for me to be able to share that information truly globally. Yet none of that would be possible if it weren’t for the everyday sort of micro achievements and accomplishments that happen just by being open to sort of the miracle of practice that happens and being curious about what’s happening for that patient.
Are you looking forward to attending any certain lectures or seeing any speakers?
There are so many incredible speakers within the Fetch lineup and I’m quite honestly thrilled to be able to spend any time that I can. Within those other sessions. I know that we’re going to have some amazing presenters, including a keynote with Temple Grandin, PhD, MS. I always look forward to seeing presentations from some of my colleagues I’ve gotten to know not only professionally but personally.
What can you tell us about your recent trip to Iceland?
I am so grateful that I recently had the opportunity as an invited speaker to head over to Reykjavik, Iceland, and to spend a couple of days there with just some incredible, brilliant colleagues, some from the US and quite a few from Western Europe and Scandinavian countries, as a way of really sharing information that we are learning from around the globe. I also would say that within that experience, in Iceland, it was such an incredibly beautiful stretch of weather that we had. We also had the opportunity to enjoy a couple of the lagoons and some of the soaking pools that are just fantastic [and a] therapeutic experience, a way to just sort of roll those shoulders back in and literally soak in the benefits of all that the world around us has to show.
If you could lecture anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Good question. You know, at this point, I’ve got a couple of just a couple of bucket list items. This is as much about getting to travel to these areas as it is lecturing there. I want the opportunity to experience the Galapagos [and] I want the experience of seeing some of the large African mammals in their native environments.