Although he retired as a longtime veterinarian in the Stettler area just over one year ago, Dr. Jim Mailer still misses the work.
“My interests remain in the practice, but vision loss and several months of post-surgery recovery have ensured that practising again is only a dream,” said Dr. Mailer, who worked at Stettler Veterinary Clinic from May 1977 to August 2009 when he was forced to retire with the sudden onset of significant loss of vision in his eyes.
“Vision is essential to practice for me,” said Dr. Mailer.
“With no opportunity for recovery, retirement was essential.”
As he reflects on his career, many great stories and changes stand out.
“It is fair to say that I had the opportunity to address health issues of a wide variety of animals from reptiles to birds, to pocket pets, to dogs and cats, but the majority of my attention was to large species of farm animals especially cattle, horses, swine, bison and farmed wildlife.”
“If I include herd work, I probably served from 300 to 500 thousand animals,” said Dr. Mailer.
He accomplished much during his career that was capped when he received the Bovine Veterinarian of the Year Award in 2010.
With the opportunity to work with dozens of veterinarians, he has many great memories.
“There were several memorable cases that were successfully dealt with despite adverse circumstances,” said Dr. Mailer.
Several times, he found himself in the wrong place at the right time – the consequence was a lot of bruises and a few fractured bones.
“On one occasion, after the local doctor declined to get me a walking cast, I had my staff at the vet clinic apply a leg cast and was back to work in a couple hours,” said Dr. Mailer.
“It got me through a calving season.”
He served on the council of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, including one year as president.
As well, he served several years on board and two terms as president of a large veterinary drug purchasing and wholesaling organization in western Canada.
Right out of college, Dr. Mailer started practice in Stettler.
“It was a good choice as Dr. Bill Harrison (who started the practice in 1949) was nearing retirement and the area was ripe for some new energy.”
“It was an exciting time for me and the area treated me very well and I am grateful for that,” said Mailer.
His passion for the career is deeply rooted.
“I had an interest in veterinary medicine since my youth after meeting veterinarians on my Dad’s ranch at Cadogan, Alberta,” he said.
“After a visit to the clinic before graduation, I was offered a job.”
“Knowing that I had insufficient capital to start my own practice, I accepted the offer.”
A lot has changed since he started.
“The biggest change has been the introduction of computers, ultrasound diagnostics, automated laboratory diagnostics, the cell phone, a much expanded practice facility, referral specialty practices,” said Dr. Mailer.
“New graduates are faced with a mountain of detailed education that they bring to practice.”
Despite the circumstances, he commends his staff, partners Dr. Barb Munholland and Dr. Jackie Dobinson, and associate veterinarians for the extra support the past few months.
“I’m also grateful for a medical system that has served me very well,” said Dr. Mailer.
“The events of the past year have expanded possibilities for me – at least, I have been given the opportunity and some time to explore other interests.”
While spending more time with family, visits by former clients and friends have been a highlight of several days over the past months.