Kim Rotner, D.V.M. ’86, P’20

Kim Rotner, D.V.M. ’86, P’20

DEGREES: B.S. in biology; D.V.M., University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine

JOB TITLE: Veterinarian, Hawthorne Animal Health Care in Salem, Massachusetts

FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: My favorite Trinity memory would have to be “studying” on the quad with friends on the first nice spring day of the year!

What made you realize that caring for animals would be your life’s work? For as long as I can remember, caring for animals has been my passion. Whether it was tending to the stray cat in the neighborhood or caring for my own family pets, I always felt at home with the animals.

What is a typical day at work for you? I am part of a multi-doctor small animal veterinary practice located north of Boston in Salem, Massachusetts. Our hospital services dogs and cats. In addition to traditional veterinary medicine and surgery, our hospital also offers alternative treatment modalities to patients such as acupuncture, herbal therapy, natural supplements, and diets. A typical day at work for me includes evaluating and treating sick animals, as well as annual exams, vaccines, and acupuncture appointments. Diagnostic tools may include radiology, ultrasonography, surgical exploration, or blood chemistry panels, as well as physical exams.

How did you get involved in your specialty of acupuncture? I have always had a deep appreciation for Asian religion, philosophy, medicine, and culture. I also knew the path I needed to take to become a veterinarian involved extensive study and mastery of the basic sciences — biology, chemistry, physics, etc. While at Trinity, I was able to explore courses in Asian philosophy and religion as well as sciences, but I never saw the possibility of combining these areas of interest. One summer during veterinary school while working at a veterinary hospital in New York, I was introduced to a new concept: veterinary acupuncture! I saw dogs walk into a treatment session lame and leave after a half hour with an improved gait. I knew then that this was what I was meant to pursue, and the veterinarian there became my mentor. I graduated veterinary school and joined a traditional small animal veterinary hospital on Boston’s North Shore. After a year in practice, I began to pursue my acupuncture training and became certified through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. Since then I have incorporated acupuncture into my daily practice with dogs and cats.

What does it help? Veterinary acupuncture has been successfully used to treat chronic pain conditions associated with joints as well as intervertebral disc problems. It can also be effective in treating acute neck and back pain issues. I have used acupuncture to help boost the immune system in cases of cancer or chronic disease. Other indications for the use of acupuncture include allergies, respiratory disease, gastrointestinal upsets, fertility issues, and even hearing loss. The endorphin release associated with inserting sterile needles along meridians in a painless treatment helps the animals feel better and relax. Treatments last about 30 minutes each. After positive results are achieved with weekly sessions, treatments are tapered off a week at a time. Most patients require monthly treatments to maintain their positive effects. Incorporating acupuncture into my practice has been extremely rewarding. It has enabled me to improve my patients’ health with no side effects.

Do you own any pets? Our family owns a female Norwich terrier named Jib.

How did your time at Trinity affect your career choice? I knew before coming to Trinity that I was going to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. I chose Trinity College for many reasons, including the strength of the science program, but also the ability to take advantage of courses in many different disciplines. I truly believe that the liberal arts approach with courses in the sciences, arts, history, philosophy, and religion helped me to become the person I am today. Science is what I needed to learn to get into veterinary school, but the arts and literature help me to better relate to my clients. Exposure to classes in Buddhism, mysticism, Japanese art, and religion also played a role in my eventual interest and deeper understanding of the art of veterinary acupuncture.

Was there a professor who was particularly influential? One of my favorite courses at Trinity was “The Philosophy of Sport” taught by Drew Hyland. It was an interdisciplinary course that stretched the boundaries of my thinking regarding athletes and their approach to their sport. I often reminisce about the class sitting in the courtyard reading passages aloud from our books. This course taught me to question the ordinary and always look deeper in order to fully comprehend a subject.