ASPA Member Highlight – Kamal Gabadage, Clinical Associate (Bovine Field Service), Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM)

Written by Karen E. Mosier

Kamal graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Sri Lanka in 2007. He came to Canada in 2009. He completed an internship in Large Animal Medicine in 2012 and completed a 3 year residency training in Food Animal Production Medicine in 2016 at the WCVM. Kamal is a specialist in food animal production medicine and holds diplomate status of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in Food Animal Practice. He gives credit to his WCVM colleagues and friends Dr. Ted Leighton, Dr. Lyall Petrie, Dr. Fritz Schumann, Sherry Presnell, and Jane Fitzpatrick for their support during this time. In particular, he acknowledges his mentor and role model Dr. Ted Leighton, Professor Emeritus, WCVM, and former Executive Director, Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, who helped him to overcome racial barriers, financial difficulties, visa challenges, and cultural stereotyping that international students often face when they move to a different country to continue their studies and find employment. 

Kamal’s main duties include providing clinical service for farm and pet animal clients through the ruminant field service of veterinary medical Centre and providing clinical teaching for the veterinary undergraduate students through clinical cases, lectures, labs, rounds, and other hands on trainings. The species of interest are dairy cattle, beef cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and camelids.   

What Kamal likes most about his job is helping animals when they are sick while focusing on animal welfare and assisting farmers to achieve their financial goals by disease prevention and optimizing management. He believes in a balanced approach to our relationship with farm animals and they should be respected for all the work they do for human beings and their use as food. He is very happy to help them when their health is impaired. The other part of his job that he really loves is teaching students to improve their clinical skills (e.g., rounds, labs, case discussions). He says, “It is always fun to see how their skills improve with the help you give to them”. He volunteers a lot of his spare time to mentor students studying for their licensing exams. He adds, “I love the university. My friends are like family.”

What Kamal loves most about working at the WCVM is the access to services e.g., ultrasonography, digital radiography and computed tomography (CT) that would not be available to him if he worked in private practice. He also appreciates the library services available at the university and being able to loan materials from other universities, things that we often take for granted.   

Kamal believes that his DVM, his Board certification, and the training he took at the WCVM is crucial for his work. He has a strong work ethic. Whether he is performing a surgery, doing a pregnancy check or cleaning his truck, he does it with pride. He says, “I enjoy my job and I want to make a difference and help my students and do my best for patients”.

Kamal has been an ASPA member for the last four years, but he has been in the university with WCVM since 2012. He believes that the most valuable thing about ASPA is having a group to represent you as a part of the work force at the University of Saskatchewan. He credits Darcy Hryn-Bird, ASPA Member Services Officer, for her invaluable help and support over the years. He says, “Darcy is pleasant and easy-going and always accessible, even in the evenings and on the weekends.”

Kamal’s advice to new ASPA members is “Read your letter of offer and make sure that everything promised in the interview is included in your letter of offer before you sign it. Read the collective agreement and get informed about all the perks available to you (e.g., employee benefits, pension plan, APDA, tuition waiver) so that you can take advantage of these great features you have access to as part of your employment package”.

Kamal’s advice to all ASPA members is “Go above and beyond in your job and exceed others’ expectations. Strive for work life balance and take time for physical fitness and to spend time with your family. Chronic health problems can occur from working too hard. Take all your holidays. Report your extra hours and take extra time off in lieu”.

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