New hospital director brings relationship building and big-picture thinking

man examining fluffy white dog's face
Dr. Chad Johannes with Lexi, a patient at the Flint Animal Cancer Center. (Kellen Bakovich)

After spending a year at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for an internship in small animal medicine, Dr. Chad Johannes spent the next 24 years trying to come back to work at Colorado State University. He finally made it.

Johannes is now the hospital director and brings with him years of diverse experience in veterinary medicine, pharmaceuticals, administration, and even marketing. Though he followed a “nontraditional” career path, Johannes’s time spent honing a unique skillset makes him the perfect fit for the leadership position at the hospital.

Growing up in Nebraska, Johannes kept an eye on the neighboring state school, knowing he wanted to end up there someday. It wasn’t until he landed an internship at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital that he got a taste of what it was like to actually be a CSU Ram. The internship was only a year long, but it was an important year.

“That internship was very formative,” Johannes said. “I did my base training and got introduced to all types of changes, like how to effectively communicate with and support clients.”

After completing his education and training, Johannes practiced veterinary medicine for several years until he was presented with the opportunity to work in the pharmaceutical industry. On the marketing team at Pfizer for the first FDA-approved cancer drug for dogs, Johannes fell in love with oncology.

Dr. Chad Johannes
Johannes is board certified in oncology and small animal internal medicine. (Kellen Bakovich)

Naturally, he went on to complete an oncology residency, which was the first step on his path back into academia. He spent more time in the pharmaceutical industry at a startup company, where he learned about drug development and helped bring drugs to market, several of which are used in clinical practice today. Most recently, he spent six years at Iowa State University building their veterinary oncology program from the ground up.

“I always knew I wanted to go back to academia,” Johannes said. “I knew to truly be effective in any kind of leadership role in academia, it helps to be an academic so you can understand the challenges students and faculty face.”

With a penchant for building relationships and big-picture thinking, Johannes is excited to take on the challenges of his new role. Striking a balance between service and education is difficult, especially when corporate competitors can deliver prompt patient care without having to train the next generation of veterinarians at the same time.

“How do we optimize getting students ready for ‘day one’ and blend that with patient care, training residents, and creating an efficient, functional hospital in an academic environment?” Johannes said. “I’m fortunate to be surrounded by really good people who are so committed to these goals and making this place successful.”

Coming in with a whole different perspective on veterinary medicine – including industry insights – Johannes looks forward to pairing his strategic acumen with the knowledge and experience of the “brilliant” people around him to make the best decisions for the hospital. And he wouldn’t necessarily be a hospital director just anywhere.

“There was no question this was the place I wanted to be,” Johannes said. “I always hoped my kind of crazy career path would intersect with CSU. This is pretty much my dream job.”