When I was a pre-doctoral fellow at NCI, I met Dr. Chand Khanna and I loved the idea of combining my 2 professional interests: oncology and veterinary medicine. He worked in a different laboratory but was involved with the pre-doctoral fellow program.
I was also working as a part time client service representative at a veterinary hospital. I saw Dr. Khanna in both roles and really admired the connection he made with the patients, clients and fellow researchers.
Are there any resources or pieces of advice that helped you along the way?
Anyone who works with me know that I have 3 things I say over and over to myself:
I did not match for residency during my internships and became an ER doctor. When Dr. Barb Kitchell contacted me about an off match residency I said no. She called again, I discussed the opportunity with my practice owner and he sponsored by residency.
I think all of us have those special people who we meet at the right moments who either guide us or give us opportunities that change our path. I am so grateful for all those mentors from my 8th grade teacher who sparked my interest in science
to my current medical director who always supports me.
Photo: New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association (NJVMA) representatives at the ground breaking for the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine. From left to right, Dr. Sheila Levie, NJVMA board, Dr. Matthew Edson, Dean, Dr. Jennifer Kim, Dr. Mike Yurkus, former president of NJVMA, and Mr. Phil Russo, NJVMA Executive Director.
When it comes to increasing diversity in veterinary specialty medicine, what kind of resources or changes would you like to see from the ACVIM and/or similar organizations? To phrase it another way, how can the ACVIM better support its diverse members?
DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) is important to me being a person of color in a field that has little diversity (>90% Caucasian according to the AVMA among veterinarians, not support staff). I did AmeriCorps as a gap year and also during college
working in inner-city schools. I think this is not simply an issue of getting diverse backgrounds to apply but focusing our efforts earlier in the process. There is an economic and education gap that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. I would
like to see more focus on middle school students especially those in at risk areas. I take every opportunity I can get to speak to elementary, middle and high school students about my journey.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
My team sees new consults in the morning and rechecks in the afternoon. We almost always sit for lunch and we leave on time. We laugh a lot. Work life balance is so important. I am glad that in veterinary medicine we are discussing boundaries. However,
I think in reality we are oftentimes not as good at practicing what we preach. I have learned that having management that supports their employees can make a world of difference in the culture of the hospital.
What do you consider one of your career successes? How did you achieve it?
I think my biggest success is when a colleague chooses me to treat their pet. Having the respect of my coworkers is the biggest compliment I can get. My second biggest success is when clients tell me that I made the journey with their pet easier.
Beyond the medicine I want to know that I support the clients and prepare them for every step.
What do you consider a challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
Learning to slow down a bit. Take the time to make real connections with your coworkers and clients. Listening to clients and learning their stories with their pets. I am so New York that softening my sharp edges was very hard. I am still at heart
a New Yorker and it’ll come out when I am upset. However, I think that maturity has made me not sweat the small stuff and see the big picture more.
Photo: A shot from Dr. Kim's "happy place:" her paddleboard.
What impact has the ACVIM had in shaping your career?
ACVIM has given me opportunities to serve my profession. Service has always been important to me. My satisfaction with my career is not only in the patients I treat but hoping with every small step I am able to move our profession forward.
Finally, what is something unique about your career, or career path?
I do not feel like I am the typical veterinarian. I had lots of breaks in my path. I took a gap year as mentioned above, did research at NCI between college and veterinary school and worked 2 years in emergency before getting an off-match residency.
I think those breaks helped me be a better person and ultimately a better doctor. Most importantly it taught me the importance of service to the community.
Dr. Kim is featured in Veterinarians — beset by stress, death and debt — are dying by suicide at high rates
Read Dr. Kim's Career Spotlight here >>