When did your interest in Veterinary Medicine begin?
I wanted to be a Vet since age 5! I always had a connection to animals, as well as plants and the other aspects of nature.
What led you to Holistic Medicine?
I always wanted to hang out with the shaman in the rainforest and learn plant medicine. My interest in pharmacognosy and conservation led me to advocate for education around how important pharmaceuticals had been derived from plants. Still only a fraction of our world’s plants have been examined for medicinal benefits. If we destroy our rainforests and diverse flora, not only do we potentially lose medicines, but we destroy habitat for birds and animals. Now people are realizing how much our climate, temperature, ozone, and oxygen generation is dependent on our healthy forests.
Did you have any mentors as you became involved in Holistic Medicine?
Dr. Thomas Van Cise of Norco, CA, offered externships to students. I went all the way to CA (during vet school in FL) and commuted 3+ hours daily to get exposure to his clinic, where he saw exotics, pocket pets, some farm animals, as well as dogs and cats. He introduced me to qi gong, flower essences, reiki, tachyon, homeopathy, and much more! May he rest in peace.
Dr. Roger Clemmons and Dr. Cheryl Chrisman, both neurologists, were my advisors at U. of Florida College of Vet Med. They were both huge advocates of acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, and reiki. I was also one of the first four students to get to do an elective clinic rotation with Dr. Huisheng Xie, the first acupuncturist to be brought on staff at a teaching hospital.
What modalities do you practice, and where did you get your training?
I mostly use acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, massage, acupressure. I attended most classes offered by the Chi Institute, and also received a scholarship to apprentice with Dr. Richard Panzer in Seattle, WA. He had his accreditation from IVAS, but also studied in China. He speaks Chinese, is an empath, and learned herbs and acupuncture techniques in China. He learned how the acupuncture needles were made traditionally. I learned a lot about trusting my own empathy and resonance skills, tui na massage, and food healing from him. He calls his course The American Institute for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.
What is the structure of your practice (eg. Solo, group, Integrative, solely Holistic)? How many support staff do you have?
My practice has been growing. For many years I did everything alone—from answering phones and mopping floors, laundry, etc. Now I have 3-4 part time support receptionists/vet assistants. I would like to find the right person to come in as a second vet long term.
What is your physical practice environment?
My holistic vet clinic is also my art gallery. I painted the floors, built and designed the front desk, shelves, displays, etc. I have my healing jewelry and paintings, sculptures, a Kuan Yin mural, and lots of big tropical plants in front of big windows. Tall ceilings, calm world music, and bedding on the floor for the dogs and a low table for the cats keep the atmosphere calm.
What is a normal workday like for you?
A normal workday for me involves seeing as many as 16 acupuncture patients in one day! New appointments are an hour, follow-up acupuncture appointments are 30 minutes. Some appointments are wellness exams or do not necessarily include acupuncture, but most include acupuncture. We also do routine blood work, cytologies, etc. I send home herbal supplements, discuss nutrition, and teach all my clients acupressure and massage points to use to help their own animals. I also send every client home with a simple grounding meditation, which gives them new and additional tools to help them help their pets, since many of the illnesses I see in pets are brought on and/or aggravated by stressful lives (their own and those of their people).
What are your favorite tools (eg. Supplies, products, computers, etc)?
My hands are my favorite tools! My acupuncture needles are next, but if I didn’t have needles, I could still do acupressure, massage, reiki, and qi gong and still help my patients! I like being sustainable and leaving as small of a carbon footprint as I can. I’m trying to be better all the time by sourcing more local herbs and products, organic whenever possible.
What provides you with inspiration in your practice life?
When an anxious or painful pet closes their eyes in deep relaxation after putting acupuncture needles in for them, I am inspired to continue doing what I do. When frustrated clients have spent over $7000 at a specialty center--without any diagnosis or relief--but the patient responds to my acupuncture, I am rewarded for choosing a less-traveled path.
What are your favorite conferences?
I like the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association Conference. I also like the herbal continuing education that Golden Flower Chinese Herbs offers. I like local CE opportunities near me where I can learn more about recent findings in pain management, physical therapy and client communications. I am looking forward to attending my first AAVA/IVAS conference soon.
Are there any other things you do to be inspired professionally?
I attend networking events with a wide array of other types of professionals. I’m almost always the only Vet, and one of the youngest (women) business owners.
Do you have any other professional activities?
I have an art business. I create paintings, murals, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, wall hangings, drawings, urns for pet ashes, meditation tools, aromatherapy, notecards. I teach qi gong meditation and art meditation classes as well.
How do you maintain balance between your professional activities and home life?
HA! This is a process! I create my art and do a lot of meditation. I spend a lot of time in the woods. I have close friends that understand my work that I can spend time with and have fun with. I love to dance, drum, sing, and hear music.
What do you like to do away from the office?
What is the future of holistic veterinary medicine?
I believe understanding the connection between the guardian's lifestyle and stress level will be looked at more closely to understand the pet's needs and medical conditions—as they really do sponge our energy, whether smooth-flowing or stagnant.
Do you have any advice to those just starting out?
Cultivate a meditation and self-reflection practice, such as qi gong.
Never stop learning, asking questions or keeping an open mind.
Check out the following eye-opening resources:
Dogs Who Know When Their Owners are Coming Home by Rupert Sheldrake
Vibrational Medicine by Richard Gerber, M.D.
Messages From Water by Dr. Emoto
The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton
Are there any new developments in Medicine that excite you?
I am enjoying learning and implementing homotoxicology and bioregulatory medicine.