June 7, 2021
On the evening before Dr. Chris Rohwer’s retirement from VetCor, we chatted with him about his veterinary career and received some wonderful pearls of wisdom to pass on. If you didn’t get the pleasure of meeting Dr. Rohwer, now’s a great time to learn about the man himself.
Dr. Rohwer earned his DVM degree from Michigan State University in 1983 and spent his time working with large animals upon graduation. In 1990, he purchased Sprinkle Road Veterinary Clinic which he successfully grew from a half doctor practice to a three doctor practice and constructed an entirely new clinic in 1996. Three years later, he sold to VetCor to alleviate HR burdens and allow himself to focus on medicine. For many years, he grew with the company and finally became a veterinary leader amongst his peers, guiding them and helping them thrive.
About his veterinary journey, Dr. Rohwer said it “has been nothing short of extraordinary” and that he’s “thankful for all the lessons, wisdom, and challenges” that he’s come across throughout the years.
Here are a few of those lessons:
Every new grad should work out of the back of a truck for a year.
“I graduated from Michigan State in 1983 and spent the first seven years of my career working with dairy cows. Large animal work is valuable. It teaches creativity. Use what you have to make it work with the resources available to you. It’s a veterinary skill that will always pay you back.”
Mentorship is rewarding.
When Dr. Rohwer sold to VetCor, he pursued a minor career shift and taught high school veterinary science as part of a pilot program that was the first of its kind in Michigan. As part of the program, 20 high school seniors visited his practice (where he built his own in-house classroom) for two hours a day to learn about veterinary medicine. He went on to do this for 11 years and, when it came time for him to retire from Sprinkle Road and hire his replacement, he chose a former student, Dr. Lauren Enders.
In addition to that, Dr. Rohwer spent eight years on the state veterinary licensing board where he built relationships with local veterinarians and offered them mentorship to help them turn their practices around, a role that he describes as both challenging and rewarding.
The blessing of veterinary medicine is that you can branch out and do so much.
Unlike human doctors, veterinarians have the opportunity to explore all kinds of horizons throughout their careers. Over the course of his career, Dr. Rohwer has worked with zoo animals, rehabilitated wildlife, placed a splint on a tarantula, and extracted a molar from an elephant. His advice? “Don’t just do one thing. You must continue to learn or you’ll burn out. Find another challenge. Branch out to something you’re interested in or pick a good CE event to help fuel your next endeavour.”
“Continue to grow throughout your entire career. Find what you enjoy. Challenge yourself. It's okay if you want to change course. No matter what you do, it almost always turns out better than you anticipated; this can be something as simple as a hard client discussion you’ve been dreading or a complicated surgery that has been daunting you.”
Looking to the future.
As you may expect, Dr. Rohwer has mixed feelings about retiring. He says, “It’s hard to let go but exciting to start a new chapter. I look forward to the new challenges this next phase will bring, and I am comforted knowing that the leadership team I leave behind is full of strong leaders.”
What you might not know or expect is that he’s an avid beekeeper - which is one of the things he’s most looking forward to doing with his spare time. In fact, he already has a couple of hives. About his fondness for bees, he says, “Interestingly, apiaries are considered food animals and need a veterinarian to help with hive health. It’s fascinating and I enjoy working with other local bee experts to learn something new.”
We’re so fortunate Dr. Rohwer has been part of the VetCor family for this long, and we wish him all the best in this next chapter. He’s devoted much of his time and energy to his patients, clients, and students for decades, and, if anyone deserves some rest and relaxation, it’s him. Thank you for everything, Dr. Rohwer.
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