Leading The Way

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In November, 2010, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine was offered a unique opportunity when we were approached by a potential donor interested in incorporating integrative medicine into LSU’s clinical services, teaching and research programs. A memo of understanding brought together all the parties involved and the donor agreed to a large financial commitment to the school over a period of five years.

Since most veterinary schools currently don’t offer integrative medicine, this program has generated a high level of excitement among faculty, staff and students. In little more than a year, a variety of integrative medicine initiatives have been established at the school.

• The Dean’s Cabinet (school leadership cadre) is endorsing integrative medicine as part of the school’s mission.

• An active student club for integrative medicine called PARM (Preventive Alternative Rehabilitative Medicine) had been established. The students meet monthly, engage guest veterinarians and run “hands on” training sessions. Guests to date have included Dr. Bridget Kelly of Acadiana Equine, talking about equine acupuncture, and Dr. Larry McCaskill, who did an acupuncture demonstration on a canine patient.

• Invited guest speakers are addressing staff, faculty and students in integrative veterinary medicine topics. Speakers to date include Dr. Susan G. Wynn, DVM, RH, CVA, CVCH, with a talk on nutraceuticals and alternative diets. Upcoming speakers for 2012 include Dr. Richard Palmquist, DVM and Dr. Huisheng Xie of the Chi Institute.

• One faculty member, Associate Professor Rebecca S. McConnico, has already become fully certified as a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) practitioner, with three more clinicians, including the Department Head of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Dr. Dale Paccamonti, is scheduled for training this coming year.

• Focus modalities currently include TCVM, acupuncture, massage, rehabilitation and nutrition.

• Dr. Rick Palmquist, the past President of the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association (AHVMA) kicks off 2012 as our guest speaker for Dean’s Rounds, a well-attended college colloquium.

• Over 30 LSU faculty, students and staff have attended two AHVMA conferences, and are planning to go again this year.

• We are sponsoring student internships in integrative medicine. Students submit written requests for financial assistance to attend training classes at other locations.

• A ten-member Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) Integrative Medicine Oversight Team/Committee has been set up. A steering committee made up of VTH clinicians and staff, this team will oversee the growth of integrative veterinary medicine-related activities at LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

• We are including integrative medicine services such as acupuncture, nutritional counseling and massage therapy in our small animal lobby/ primary care expansion plans.

• We are testing and researching specific equine neutraceutical components, including evaluations of efficacy and palatability.

• Our web presence is being updated to include integrative service alternatives, and we have just launched a Facebook page — search ‘LSU – VTH Integrative Medicine Services’.

• In the coming year, PARM and the Integrative Medicine Team will sponsor integrative veterinary medicine guest speakers on a monthly basis to address the School of Veterinary Medicine, and in some cases, the broader community.

Our forays into the integrative medicine arena are dynamically impacting the education of our veterinary students, improving the clinical care of the animals entrusted to our care, and creating new opportunities and avenues for clinical research in integrative veterinary medicine. Our long term goal is to establish an Institute/ Center for Integrative Veterinary Medicine at LSU, identifying the school as a leader integrative veterinary medicine development and inquiry.

Margaret Coffey, DVM, MBA, is the Hospital Director at LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is a genuine proponent of integrative veterinary medicine and has been trained in advanced integrative medicine modalities. She received an MBA from Harvard University and her veterinary degree from Cornell. Prior to LSU, she was the Hospital Director at the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.