What a interesting group of veterinary students we’re seeing this year! I’m enjoying working on these posts! This time we visit with Dianicia Kirton of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee University (class of 2018). She’s president of the Student American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, founder of the Tuskegee Holistic Veterinary Medicine Club and a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist Candidate at the Chi Institute of Traditional
Chinese Veterinary Medicine. She was chosen by Nationwide field veterinarian Dr. Tonya Sparks.
Will you please share something unexpected you discovered or learned on your path to veterinary medicine?
Prior to veterinary school, I knew that there were several specialties for veterinarians, but I had no idea of the vast variety of career options. Although I entered knowing that I wanted to practice clinical medicine, I was blown away by the diversity of the field that seems to go unnoticed by those outside of our professional sphere.
My chosen career path is one of an integrative holistic companion animal practitioner, but I did not know that holistic medicine even existed in the veterinary world prior to my first year in veterinary school. After doing tons of research and seeing first hand how Eastern (holistic) and Western (conventional) medicine can work harmoniously together to optimize patient health and wellness, I found my passion and what I call my “home” in veterinary medicine.
Upon my personal discovery of integrative medicine, I was even more surprised that it isn’t incorporated more into the veterinary curriculum. Evidence-based holistic modalities have a place in our learning now more than ever, especially with the influx of clients looking to treat their pets more naturally, with minimally invasive techniques. This is what pushed me to establish the Holistic Veterinary Medicine Club here at Tuskegee, so that we may supplement what is missing. I always say that holistic modalities are just more tools in your pocket to heal your patients — and that’s what brought us all to vet school in the first place.
What is your vision for the future of veterinary medicine and how does
it influence the way you’re preparing?
I would love to see veterinarians taking more time to take care of ourselves. As a community, burnout and depression have impacted us greatly and, rightly so, it has become a point of discussion within the profession. More and more veterinary schools, as well as the AVMA, are putting more of an emphasis on wellness, mental health, and destigmatizing these issues. Enjoying life and the things I love to do in the midst of crazy vet school (and not feeling guilty about it!) has actually helped me become a better student. Following my passions, enjoying nature, and practicing meditation and thankfulness has made me a happier person and more able to handle the stressors of school and the profession.
Can you tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise your
Most would be surprised to know that I am actually very shy. I almost turned down being chapter president of our VBMA due to my fear of public speaking and self-doubt about being able to fill my predecessor’s shoes. This is completely opposite of most colleagues’ impressions of me, as I am always excited to meet new people, network, and discuss issues and topics relevant to our field.
Allowing my passion and drive to fill me, instead of my anxiety and doubt, has led me to take on leadership positions and form
connections I would not have sought out otherwise.