Meet Dr. Chris Adin: New small animal clinical sciences chair

Dr. Chris Adin

Dr. Chris Adin

Dr. Christopher Adin began his new position at UF on Sept. 1, returning to lead the department of small animal clinical sciences, or SACS, where he served on the faculty of from 2001 to 2006. While he was away, Dr. Adin spent two years in surgery practice, followed by academic appointments at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where he served as an associate professor of soft tissue and oncologic surgery. This article is one of a series in which The Veterinary Page (VP) will catch up with several new members of the administrative team to ask how things are going and what their short- and long-term goals are for their respective areas.

VP: Welcome back to the college! How are you adjusting?

CA: Part of what drew me here was the openness and comfort level that the faculty and staff have with each other — it feels like a family. That’s true of both the college and of the community of Gainesville as a whole. Because of the continuity with the culture and the people here, I can almost pretend that I never left.

VP: That’s interesting, and leads into my next question, which is what drew you back to UF in the first place; what attracted you to the SACS chair position?

CA: The primary thing was the culture and the people. Many other places I’ve worked have had similar strengths to UF when you look at things like opportunities for collaboration, high-quality clinical programs and research. But what I remember about UF, as the first place I had an academic appointment, was that it was a place where people cared about each other, and that there was a warmth and a personality to the department that permeated your daily life.

I remember UF as a place where I was friends with the people I worked with, to an extent that we spent time at each other’s homes and did things together outside of work. There are a lot of rules that can arise as places become large, but that hasn’t gotten in the way of the personality and family atmosphere here. I detected that when I came back to visit.

VP: What have you set as priorities for yourself and for the department, short-term and long-term?

CA: My focus in coming here was to improve the career satisfaction and quality of life among the faculty and within the department. I want the faculty and staff of SACS to feel valued and supported, and to see a clear pathway to their own career advancement.

I have a list of initiatives that I discussed in the interview process that I think would help contribute to a better academic environment at UF. Before I enacted those, I decided to spend my first 90 days learning about the lives of people in our department. I visited each clinical service in the hospital, and spent a half-day with them, observing how students, house officers and clinicians went about their day. Simultaneously, I held “Chat with the Chair” meetings with the junior faculty, using these small group sessions to help me to revise and prioritize my plans for the department.

VP: Could you say a bit more about what you found when you spent time with faculty members in the various clinical services in your first 90 days?

CA: Sure. Key things that emerged from my discussions and surveys of the faculty were that they would like promotion requirements to be more specific, and in that way, relieve some of their anxiety. When you know what you’re working toward, there’s no mystery there, versus working tirelessly toward infinity. The other thing they prioritized highly was having an excellent mentoring system for junior faculty. Those are my two strategic initiatives, and we’re working now on both of those things.

VP: Finally, I’d like to ask what you see as key challenges the department faces, and how you see yourself navigating those challenges.

CA: The key challenges I see are also opportunities at the same time. One is how much the department has grown in recent years; we’ve added nearly 20 faculty since I was here 12 years ago in our department, and as a result, we have a large proportion of junior faculty members. These new faculty are enthusiastic and positive, and at the same time they will need mentorship and training to be successful. So that’s one challenge. The other is that we’re expanding into a lot of other activities, reaching out into the community in Alachua County and other parts of Florida. Examples would include the UF-PETS emergency clinic in Ocala and collaborations with groups like St. Francis Pet Care and Miami-Dade Animal Services. As we stretch into new areas, we’re asking a lot of our faculty and our resources, but these community outreach ventures are also really important aspects of our program. I think we have the talented people to be successful in these aspects.

SACS faculty are leaders in many aspects of our clinical enterprise, and I do see faculty worried that the volume of their clinical activity could limit their scholarly activities. My goal is to point out that the busy clinic actually offers scholarly activities to help find ways for discovery to happen both on clinics as well as off clinics. We’re also focusing a lot more now on clinical trials people can do while they’re on clinics so that their time there is productive in a scholarly way.

VP: Thank you very much for sharing your vision and experience with us! Best of luck with your new role.

CA: Thank you, Sarah!

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