Dr. Clif Gidlund

by Neal Sivula



When did your interest in Veterinary Medicine begin?

My interest in medicine began when I was 5 years old. I was in the hospital for 3 months because of a 3rd degree burn to my right leg. I could have gone either way I suppose, either hating the medical profession, or embracing it,  I embraced it. I decided then that I wanted to be a Doctor. It is probably a cliché for veterinarians, but I had always loved animals and while I was in the hospital I really missed the family Cocker Spaniel, Lucy.  I had two sisters  that were 8 and 12 years older than I, making them 13 and 17 at that time.  Hospital policy did not allow minors to visit even if they were family.  My sisters put on makeup and high heeled shoes and dresses and put Lucy in a big shopping bag and brought her into the hospital to visit me. She had to stay in the shopping bag  but I got to look down and pet her for a short time from my hospital bed.  

When I was 10 years old my father bought a dairy farm and I looked forward to working with my father on the farm. I was very interested when Dr. Wilson, the local veterinarian came to our farm. I always watched him and tried to help him whenever possible. A short time later I decided that I wanted to be a veterinarian. It took me a long time to finally become a veterinarian, but when I did I went back to my home town and took over the practice from Dr. Wilson, the first vet I ever knew.

What led you to Holistic Medicine?

My father was a very free thinker. He had come from Sweden when he was 20 years old and although he had very little formal education he was always reading and interested in a variety of ideas and philosophies.  When I was 10 years old, he gave me a book about yoga. The book gave some history of yoga from a physical perspective, but it was really about the mental discipline that can lead to the achievement of one's goals. I became very interested with Eastern Philosophies.

When President Nixon went to China in 1972 there was a lot of press coverage of a person in the entourage that was treated with acupuncture. A lot of press coverage on acupuncture followed. I became interested. 

When I was in my first year of Veterinary School, Dr. Beaver came and gave a talk on veterinary acupuncture. I became more interested. After I graduated from Veterinary School I saw a course given on acupuncture in Chicago. It was about a 4 day course. The instructor was Sheldon Altman, DVM.  (In recent years I have learned that he was also the first instructor for Allen Schoen, DVM, and his book Veterinary Acupuncture was dedicated to Dr. Altman.)  I started using some acupuncture in my practice, but I was busy building a practice and didn't feel confident enough to use it very often. After practicing for over 20 years I decided to become certified in veterinary acupuncture and attended the Chi Institute.

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

Dr. Xie of the Chi Institute.

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

I practice primarily with acupuncture, dry needling, aquapuncture with vitamin B12, and electro acupuncture. I also use Tui Na, Chinese Herbs and Chinese Food Therapy. 

I received my primary training from the Chi Institute. I have also returned to school at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine to receive my human license which has a broadened my knowledge base further.  I did feel that human acupuncture school was more of a review because of the excellent foundation I received at the Chi Institute.


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

I have sold my practice 5 years ago and now work as an employee in a 3 doctor practice. I am the only one practicing Holistic Medicine. We have 4 lay people for support.

What is your physical practice environment?  

We have a very nice practice building with 3 exam rooms, surgery, dentistry and kennel areas. Because it is a newer practice we have new equipment such as surgical laser, digital X-ray, lab equipment etc. 

What is a normal workday like for you?

 am currently working half time because I am semi retired, and because I am starting to build my human practice. I start at 9 AM and work until 2 PM.  I do Western Medicine and surgery along with acupuncture. I do receive referrals from my colleagues in the practice and frequently talk about acupuncture an herbs to my Western Medicine clients. Many of them respond positively. I have been in the practice for three years and the percentage of my time doing TCM is increasing at a good pace. I probably see 3 to 6 animals for TCM a week. I also integrate acupuncture into my Western Medical treatments. One example is post surgical pain relief with acupuncture.  An interesting aspect of my practice is that some of my veterinary acupuncture clients have started to become my human acupuncture patients after they see the results with their animals. I also do occasional house calls for acupuncture patients.

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

I like Dr. Xie's Jing Tang Herbs, and to quote Dr. Xie, "needles are needles".


What provides you with inspiration in your practice life?

I am inspired by the beauty of our natural world and how well TCM works to improve the health and well being of all living creatures.

What are your favorite conferences?  

The Chi Institute Trip to China was fantastic, as was the 2011 AAVA convention in Scottsdale, AZ.

Are there any other things you do to be inspired professionally?

I find it inspiring to attend human acupuncture CE as well and to compare approaches between the human and veterinary sides.

Do you have any other professional activities?

In February of 2011 I worked as a relief veterinary acupuncturist in Hawaii for Dr. Robin Woodley. That was a great experience and I hope to repeat it.


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

I only work part time and I spend as much time as possible with my wife and my son. My wife and I both have Wednesdays off so we try to keep that just for us.

What do you like to do away from the office?

My wife and I like to stay physically active. We bike, ski(cross country and down hill) hiking and like to attend musical events near us whenever possible.  We  enjoy travel. We also enjoy spending time with our Golden Retriever,  Oskar and our cat , Lucy. 

The Future

What is the future of holistic veterinary medicine?

I believe the future is primarily with integrated medicine. Western Medicine can complement TCVM and vice versa. The general population is becoming more educated about alternative therapies and the more veterinarians that can offer such services the better we will be able to serve our clients and our profession.

Do you have any advice to those just starting out?

Become educated in the modalities you are interested in and try to use them whenever you can. Make professional connections with other Holistic practitioners and attend professional meetings to stay inspired and up to date.

Are there any new developments in Medicine that excite you?

I am excited about studies about the plasticity of the nervous system and how these findings might be applicable to the science and art of acupuncture. Some of these studies have fed outputs from video cameras onto grids on the backs of blind people that allowed their brains to see. Later experiments had the output go to people's tongues. These studies show the tremendous potential of the brain for all sorts of things that have never before been imagined.