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Dr. Rick DeBowes

Pullman, WA

Background and experience: Rick is a 1979 graduate of the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine. After a brief stint in small animal practice in West Springfield, Massachusetts where he had worked as a veterinary assistant through high school and his early undergraduate college days, Rick moved to Pullman, Washington to begin an equine internship at Washington State University.  After completion of his internship and then an equine surgical residency at WSU, Dr. DeBowes moved to Kansas State University to serve as an assistant professor of equine surgery.  There, he rose through the faculty ranks and served as chief of equine services until he was appointed head of Veterinary Clinical Sciences in 1994.  After serving as the Chairman of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Kansas State for six years, Dr. DeBowes returned to Washington State University in 2000 to serve as WSU’s Clinical Sciences chair.  In 2006, Rick assumed the responsibilities as Dean for Veterinary Development and External Relations, a group he led for six more years. Since that time, Rick has been engaged in pursing his passion of developing and teaching materials on professional development, leadership and clinical communications to veterinary students, faculty, practitioners and health care teams. Tapping on his vast experience from having served and led two large clinical programs and their teaching hospitals, Dr. DeBowes works energetically to engage audiences through active experiential learning. He was the 2014 Washington State Veterinarian of the Year and was the Norden (now Zoetis) teacher of the year at KSU and the 2009 recipient of the Veterinary Specialists in Private Practice Distinguished Service Award.


Paradigm Shifter: Beginning in 2001, Rick worked closely with psychologist Kathleen Ruby to develop experiential team building and personal leadership programs for health care professionals.   Today these programs as recognized by their more popular names: Washington State University’s Cougar Orientation and Leadership Experience (COLE) and the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience (VLE).  Recognizing that it was the thinking and behaviors of veterinarians (and their health care team members) that was holding the profession back, these programs were refined and repackaged for use by veterinary (and human) medical practices and have been offered over 400 times in continuing education programs in 28 countries on four continents.  Large multiday VLE-like programs have also been held in Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom and have become an accepted method for equipping students and graduate professionals with the skills required to help them overcome their innate and learned behavioral barriers to a fulfilling personal and professional life.   In keeping with his mission, Dr. DeBowes makes it an effort to put these programs in front of as many health care team members as possible. Together with Dr. Ruby the co-creator, Rick trained many others to spread this modified leadership curriculum. In keeping with the vision of sharing the curriculum and reaching the whole profession, Rick and Kathy gave the daily stewardship and operational control of the VLE to Dr. Betsy Charles in 2012 who has offered the program since that time.


Consultancy: Dr. DeBowes has been engaged as an advisor and/or consultant with numerous veterinary practitioners and visited over 1500 veterinary practices in 15 countries on 4 continents throughout his career to date.  He offers a series of leadership, team building and organizational culture setting engagement products to practices ranging from 4 hours to 5 days in length.  His clients have ranged from one doctor practices to large corporate veterinary practices and from pharmaceutical companies to pet nutrition companies. As well he has worked with school systems, athletic teams, and boards of directors. On almost every Monday for the past 6 years, Rick has shared at no charge, his  “My Leadership Experience,” a weekly e-mail with interested program participants around the world.   On a daily basis, Rick has shared the Inner Compass Leader’s Thought and Quote of the Day on the Inner Compass Leader’s Facebook page.  He is committed to helping all members of our chosen profession to be their best selves, individually and collectively.

Student Oriented Programs: (1-2 hours each):Compliance Based Medicine, the Key to Best Medicine While Retiring Your Personal Education Debt  Emotional Intelligence: Changing Our Lives and the Way We Work With Others For the Better, Personal Finance for Students:  Wealth is a Behavioral Decision! Having the Job, the Practice and the Career You Dream of Having!The Power of Teamwork…Getting it Done, TOGETHER! How Not To Fail In Practice. What Works and What Doesn’t! Looking for a Job? Wanting to Enjoy your Career? Hoping You Never Work a Bad Day in Your life? – A Practice’s Organizational Cultures Counts More Than Any Other Factor! The Power of Possibility: YES YOU CAN! Personalities in Our Work Place…We All Have Them and They Don’t Have to Be A Problem!The Power Of Paradigms: Your Belief Systems Can Hold You Back or Propel You Forward.Relationship Centered Care: Achieving Unparalleled Success in Caring for Our Patients and Our Clients!Communication:  Accurate, Efficient, Supportive Steps to Satisfying Exchanges with Clients, Teammates, Partners and Families.Fierce Conversations and Communication Judo…How Do We Have those Uncomfortable Conversations About Bad News, Sad News and Conflict


Special Programs or Topics Available On Request


All-School or Club Centered Leadership Programs: These interactive programs are something of an abbreviated leadership and teamwork program for veterinary schools, ideally hosted by VBMA with potential co sponsorship from SCAVMA or Graduate/Professional Student Groups on campus. Programs could go three hours in one evening…OR more optimally,  during a a Friday evening (3 hours) and all day Saturday (8AM-5PM).  Additional benefit can be gained by extending the program into Sunday Noon.  All of my leadership programs are based on the VLE curriculum, and delivered in a high energy, experiential and interactive format, as pioneered by myself and Dr. Kathy Ruby.



Speaker Fees: As a speaker, I would need my travel (air, personal or rental auto, parking, hotel) and out of pocket (food) covered.Fees are flexible.  Since almost every presentation is unique and nearly every trip takes 2-3 days time for traveling to, presenting, traveling home and following up on a program, my fees are variable and run from expenses + $1,500.00 to expenses + $6,000.00.School centered leadership programs offer opportunities to partner with others groups within the school who could benefit from my presence…for example, if I were to do a 2 day program at a school, I would ideally like to come in and talk to as many students as possible during a noon session (perhaps motivational or personal finance hosted by SCAVMA or VBMA) and then work with the club officers (VBMA or SCAVMA)  if they would like on Friday afternoon.  Then the School Centered program could begin at 6 or 7 PM on Friday and go through Friday evening and all day Saturday, plus/minus Sunday morning.   I am interested in making a difference to students. I have dedicated my entire 35 year career to student learning and support.   For that reason,if I am leaving my home, my job and most importantly, my family to travel to do a program…I want it to be high value, high impact and paradigm shifting for the participants.  Programs of this magnitude tend to run between $5,000 and 6,000.00 plus expenses.If I am coming in to do a 2-3 hour VBMA evening program and can get in and out in 2 days, I would charge $1,500.00 - $2,500.00 depending on distance traveled.Sponsors:The following companies have at different time in the past, sponsored my presentations or program tracks where I have been a featured speaker:  VCA-Antech, Live Oak Bank, AVMA PLIT, Banfield, TruPanion Pet Insurance, Hills Pet Nutrition, Zoetis, Merial Animal Health, CEVA Animal Health, Bayer Animal Health, Royal Canin, Boehringer Ingelheim, Nestle Purina, MWI, Midwest Veterinary Distributors, Elanco, Abbott



Topics Covered

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