Dr. Kim West

by Neal Sivula


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History

When did your interest in Veterinary Medicine begin?

My interest in veterinary medicine started at a very young age, probably when I was 4 or 5 years old.  At that time, it was a love of nature and of the outdoors.  I spent my early childhood years in Colorado and was always outside with the animals and nature; I could not get enough.  

What led you to Holistic Medicine?

My interest in Eastern Medicine started when I was working at my first job out of veterinary school.  One of my colleagues was getting certified in TCVM at the Chi Institute and I was hooked instantly. 

Did you have any mentors as you became involved in Holistic Medicine?

My mentors include Dr. Eve Boggs, my colleague that trained at the Chi, as well as her mentor, Dr. Meg Baho, who also trained at the Chi.  I was inspired by how these women practiced strong Western medicine, and used Eastern medicine to improve on that.

What modalities do you practice, and where did you get your training?

Like my mentors, in addition to practicing Western Medicine, I also practice Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine which includes acupuncture, acupressure, herbal therapy as well as food therapy.  I trained at the Chi Institute in Florida with Dr. Xie.  

Environment

What is the structure of your practice (eg. Solo, group, Integrative, solely Holistic)?  How many support staff do you have?

Health & Harmony Animal Hospital is a new small animal practice, specializing in cats and dogs only.  We opened this October with two doctors, myself and my business partner, Dr. Evelyn Tannhof, and two support staff.  I practice Integrative Medicine and Dr. Tannhof practices Western medicine only.  Dr. Tannhof came from a mixed animal practice and brings her varied species experiences to the table.  At this time our support staff includes one patient care coordinator, Allyson Storts and one registered veterinary technician who is also our Practice Manager, Rob Smith RVT. 

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What is your physical practice environment?  

Our physical practice is very calm, using  greens and natural stones in our color palette.  We have various water features as well as calm spa music playing.  Dog beds offer some comfort for our canine patients in the waiting room; and we have a separate waiting area for our feline patients.  We are nestled in a small urban neighborhood with an abundant walking community, close to a park and 2 doors down from a local coffee shop.  Many clients walk to their pet visits.  It is a very open and accessible environment. 

What is a normal workday like for you?

Since we are so new, there is no such thing as a typical day.  We are very flexible at this point and go with whatever comes our way.  When we do have down time we are working on marketing, SOPs and other management details. 

What are your favorite tools (eg. Supplies, products, computers, etc)?  

My favorite tools are my acupuncture needles.  I use them often and always have remarkable results.  Anything from reducing a fever to stimulating appetite, and calming a stressed patient.

Inspiration

What provides you with inspiration in your practice life?

I am inspired everyday by the wonder of our patients.  Animals are amazing in how they love, protect, and are full of joy.  It never gets old.

What are your favorite conferences?  

I enjoy continuing education in all settings.  I love pretty much any topic!  Even if it is not in my area of interest, it is still invigorating to learn. 

Do you have any other professional activities?

 I work with many rescue groups as well as other non profits in the animal welfare arena.  I currently serve on two Boards.  Black and Orange Cat Foundation is an organization that I have been working closely with for 8 years.  They are here in central Ohio and do amazing work.  Their focus is on spay/neuter, however, they also do so much for injured and abandoned cats and dogs.  I also work with SOS (Shelter Outreach Services for Ohio). They are also a non profit who offers low cost spay/neuter, as well as support local shelters and rescue groups.  They are both amazing and do so much good for the people and for the animals in our community.  I’m proud to be a part of these great organizations.

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Balance

How do you maintain balance between your professional activities and home life?

I am a Yogi!  Yoga helps me stay balanced, by serving as a time for me to quiet my mind and leave things when I need to leave them. Unknown to many, it is also a vigorous form of exercise so I feel energized to keep up the pace of running a practice!

What do you like to do away from the office?

I love Colorado and all that it has to offer.  I try and get there a couple times a year. When I am there I love to snowboard, hike, bike, do more yoga, and enjoy hot springs. 

The Future

What is the future of holistic veterinary medicine?

I feel that the future is looking pretty positive for Holistic Medicine and feel as if the demand is client driven.  Clients are asking for more options for their animal companions.  They like the idea of less invasive but effective options for treating their animals.  As for veterinarians, I think more are open to alternative medicine because it offers more tools in the tool box. 

Do you have any advice to those just starting out?

My advice for starting out would be to not get overwhelmed with all that is out there.  Start with what interests you the most.  Get a good handle on that area before you expand.  Make sure that wherever you decide to do your continuing education you have researched it well.  I studied TCVM at the Chi Institute in Florida.  I was thrilled the program there, but I did my research first and knew it was a perfect fit for me.

Are there any new developments in Medicine that excite you?

For me, one of the most exciting things that I am seeing in our profession is more veterinarians speaking out against feline declawing.  Our practice does not offer this procedure.  We are focused on how to support an owner and provide them with alternative options.  We educate about environmental enrichment, soft paws as well as providing owners with a detailed explanation of what declawing is and what negative side effects can result from this surgery.  When I was young, I don't think anyone even thought twice about this procedure.  Now people are starting to question if this is standard of care for our felines.  I am encouraged with this change of mind set but we still have a long way to go.