Q: What inspired you to become a veterinarian and pursue a career working with animals?

A: There wasn’t a specific moment; it’s always what I would do. It was a fact, not an inspiration, if that makes sense. I spent a lot of time on our family farm growing up. We had horses, cattle, and even pigs and chickens around. I remember thinking the ambulatory vet had a really cool job. Again, it was just a certainty that I’m here to be a veterinarian one day. A hard fact. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know that my life purpose involved being a veterinarian.

Q. Where was the family farm? Where did you grow up?

A. I was born and raised in Madison, TN, by people born and raised in Madison, TN. Neely’s Bend, to be specific!

Q: Can you share about your journey through veterinary school?

A: Because of my lifelong dream to be a vet, my motivation to get into vet school was high. I was very studious and serious about my GPA and gaining experience by working at vet clinics in college. I met with the admissions dean every year just so he knew I was serious.

As they say, the hardest part about vet school is getting in. I won’t ever forget the day that letter came. My stepdad actually read it to my mom, my sister, and me over the phone because none of us could wait for me to get home and open it. I remember he called and said a letter from UTCVM was addressed to me. I asked if it was thick, like a packet, or thin, like a single-page letter. When she said “thick,” we all said, “Open it!!” I think that may have been one of the best moments of my life. Vet school was hard mostly due to the sheer volume of material, not the difficulty of material. The faculty support and bonds with my classmates made it manageable. I haven’t felt closeness to friends like that before or since. My original plan had been to specialize further in anesthesia and critical care after graduating. However, I decided to take a different path. Overall, my vet school experience was stressful and beautiful, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Q: Do you have a memorable moment from your career that impacted you significantly?

A: Honestly, the times in practice were the most difficult days that impacted me most. When a pet had a negative reaction to a medication or a treatment – the fact that it was possible to cause harm even with the best of intentions and training – it really started to get to me. Even though it was rare, it was bothersome enough to really make me look at ‘practicing medicine’ and consider if it was how I really wanted to spend the rest of my professional life.

This existential crisis of sorts got me thinking about what I could do differently… over time, I took note of the fact that the days where I felt the most satisfaction was when one of the holistic clients would tell me how their pet was starting to seek out play with them again, or that the pet was just so much happier and brighter in a way they didn’t think was possible before starting their holistic care. Knowing that dogs and cats were going from survival mode to thriving and really living a full, happy, joyful existence WITHOUT DRUGS is why I work as I do now (only seeing patients for holistic care). The way I see it, there are tons of great traditional veterinarians around. I let them do what pets need regarding traditional care like X-rays, dental care, spaying/neutering, etc.

As a holistic practitioner, I come into a pet’s life when a person gets a diagnosis and treatment plan from the traditional/Western side of things and decides they either want to add in acupuncture, food, or herbal medicine OR they want to address the diagnosis from a purely holistic approach. Either way, I still very much value Western medicine, and I’m so happy we have those options available. I’m especially grateful for our ability to diagnose problems as this really helps me to know what I’m treating even if I’m not using a Western medical approach to treat the condition.

Q: How have your own pets enriched your life over the years?

A: I choose Australian Shepherds for their attentiveness to me and our environment. I also love their energy, which inspires me to stay active! It’s hard to explain the way they support me in stressful times – the bond I have with each of my dogs is my favorite part of life. My main hobby is ensuring my current buddy Harry has an epic day full of fun and spoiling.

Q: Can you share an interesting fact about yourself that people may not know?

A: In 2019, I reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa! Another funny fact: when I first heard of veterinary acupuncture, I thought it sounded silly. But when it kept me from needing neck surgery in 2007, I realized it was invaluable and decided to learn it to help my patients.

Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of veterinary medicine?

A: I really like being outside, far away from anything man-made, when possible. Hiking, the ocean, and stand-up paddleboarding are some of my favorites. My dog Harry sometimes joins me in paddleboarding, though he prefers jumping in the water! I also really enjoy traveling. There is something about being totally out of my comfort zone that I find so appealing. It’s pretty hard to be on autopilot when traveling abroad, and I like that. As Jon Krakauer says – “The core of (wo) man’s spirit comes from new experiences.”

There you have it from Dr. North herself—now scheduling Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine appointments in the East Nashville area. Reach out today to learn more or book your pet’s first session!