Prairie roots helped Ames build career

Dr. Trevor Ames hasn't lived on the Canadian Prairies since he graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1978. But he's built a successful career by applying many of the lessons he learned as a Saskatchewan farm boy growing up on the family farm near Milestone, Sask.

"We had to work collaboratively with our neighbours to achieve common goals, and I learned other valuable life lessons such as self-reliance, resilience, long-range planning, dealing with adversity and sticking to your goals," recalls Ames, now the dean of the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine.

"I think a lot of my problem solving skills came about when I broke a piece of machinery because I had to figure out how to fix it before my father came along."

Ames' decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine was influenced by role models such as the local veterinarians who came to the farm as well as family members including his mother, a key influence, who was a home economics graduate working as Saskatchewan's provincial nutritionist.

He was also motivated by two other students from his high school graduating class of 32 students -- Christopher Belan and Alan Gilbert. All three of them were focused on becoming veterinarians, and in 1974 they began their classes at the WCVM together.

Ames has many good memories of his years at the veterinary college and particularly remembers that it was still a young school made up of many of the founding faculty.

"There was a sense of new beginnings as well as enthusiasm surrounding the founding of the new school and the new faculty brought in to teach. I think it rubbed off on the students – we were encouraged to pursue any avenues of the profession we wanted to, and we had the belief that we could do whatever we wanted in the profession."

That encouragement led Ames to the U of M's College of Veterinary Medicine where he began a one-year large animal internship – a chance to explore his options before settling on a specific practice.

While conducting his research focusing on infectious diseases, Ames met his future wife, a pharmacy student working in the diagnostic laboratory at the veterinary college.

"She gets some credit for my decision to stay in Minnesota," says Ames who completed a Master of Science degree in 1981. "I never left. I ended up staying in academia and pursuing a career in research and teaching and clinical medicine."

In 1983, Ames became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. He went on to hold a number of administrative positions — including clinical director for the large animal hospital, department head of both the large animal and small animal departments and chair of the hospital leadership group — before being named dean in 2008.

As he looks back on his career, there are particular aspects that stand out for Ames. He is greatly satisfied by the ongoing relationships he has forged with the college faculty, and he has always relished the opportunity to work with the students.

"I really enjoyed teaching students in the clinic setting and in clinic labs, and I liked being part of research teams, doing collaborative research on projects and advising graduate students working on research projects."

Ames points out that becoming more involved with administrative duties also provided him with opportunities to take on large projects, and that's been a source of great satisfaction for him as he's learned to navigate through the many steps involved in leading a project to completion.

Throughout his career, Ames has been involved with a number of professional organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association. He's on the board of directors for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and is their representative with the Association of Public Land Grant Universities.

Ames also enjoys spending family time with his wife Kathy, a pharmacist working for a health maintenance organization, as well as his son Jeff and daughter Beth who are both pursuing careers in medicine. With a son-in-law who is also pursuing a medical career, Ames observes that he truly comes from a One Health family.

Of the many duties he performs as dean, Ames especially enjoys the opportunities to tell people about the U of M College of Veterinary Medicine.

"I'm very proud of what our faculty has accomplished and of the important role that the college plays within the university. It's rewarding to see its image and reputation and collaboration and networks expand as people learn more about what we do, particularly in areas such as One Health."
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