Dr. Susan Wynn

by Neal Sivula

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When did your interest in Veterinary Medicine begin?
As soon as I was aware there was such a thing - maybe as soon as I could talk.
What led you to Holistic Medicine?
During my internship year I was in a practice that employed a veterinary homeopath.  I was drawn to what a difference changing foods could make, and began exploring alternatives and additions to the modalities I learned in vet school from that time on.
Did you have any mentors as you became involved in Holistic Medicine?
Yes, I was lucky enough to find a PhD immunologist heading up a post-doctoral program I applied to in 1992.  She was in the first round of recipients of the early program grants from the Office of Alternative Medicine, but had been an alternative medicine "spook" for far longer than that.  We taught alternative medicine classes to the med students at Emory, adult education, and explored whether Chinese herbs could cure plantar warts in people.  That 3 year post-doc printed my career with an indelible mark and an appreciation for the relationship between science and the unknown, and between medicine and society.
What modalities do you practice, and where did you get your training?
Acupuncture, trained by IVAS
Western herbs, from a few human foundation courses, and certified by the American Herbalist Guild
Chinese herbs, trained by Chi Institute
Nutrition - Residency in Clinical Nutrition (3 years), University of Tennessee
What is the structure of your practice (eg. Solo, group, Integrative, solely Holistic)?  How many support staff do you have?
We are a 30-doctor multiple specialty practice (the largest private specialty practice in the Southeast), with about 120 support staff.  I have one technician for my service.
What is your physical practice environment?  
Busy!  We share rooms, so I no longer have a mood-lit, aromatherapy-calmed room, but we do our best to find lower lit and quiet rooms.
What is a normal workday like for you?
I see appointments in the morning (and have one afternoon devoted to appointments).  In the afternoons, I work on custom diet formulations for specialty and holistic practices throughout the U.S.
What are your favorite tools (eg. Supplies, products, computers, etc)?  
I could not work without my nutrition formulation software and my computer.  And my brain.  Mine is a consultation practice, and while I send home lots of herbs and supplements, most of time is spent evaluating patient condition, running diagnostics, and counseling owners on treatment plans.
What provides you with inspiration in your practice life?
The face of every geriatric patient I see.  I love old dogs and cats.
What are your favorite conferences?  
ACVIM, the AVMA leadership conference and my local state VMA conference, because it's at the beach. 
Are there any other things you do to be inspired professionally?
I read a lot of journal articles, and talk to the specialists I work with.  I volunteer on committees and thus learn a great deal about the state of the profession and how to change gears in my practice early in the game.
Do you have any other professional activities?
When would I have time after work and volunteer activities?
How do you maintain balance between your professional activities and home life?
It's never been hard for me.  I designed the career I wanted, with no emergencies or urgent problems that can't be handled by the emergency docs. 
What do you like to do away from the office?
Garden, cook, hike, ride, travel, read.......
The Future
What is the future of holistic veterinary medicine?
The future is murky, in my opinion.  As long as holistic vets depend solely on the public to market their services (via referrals from happy clients), the practice of holistic veterinary medicine will have limited growth.  Wider adoption of the attitudes and techniques of holistic medicine can happen only when our colleagues buy into it.  And for that to happen, our holistic docs need to practice using the language of veterinary medicine to describe the philosophy of holistic medicine.  It's challenging, but it's not impossible.
Do you have any advice to those just starting out?
Volunteer on committees so you know how *other* practices do things.  Go to as many C.E. meetings as you can (there are so many free ones now, it's not hard). Join VIN, and join the CAVM list.  Read it with a grain of salt.  Learn how to use efficient search terms for google and pubmed, and use these resources for EVERY question that comes your way.  Don't put off answering hard questions!
Are there any new developments in Medicine that excite you?
The increased interest in nutrition shown by the younger veterinarians really excites me!