By Nancy Scanlan, DVM, Executive Director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
What is a fellowship, anyway?
Academic fellowships are generally awarded to either graduate students or faculty members who have shown talent in the practice, research, or teaching of a specific subject or field. In a way it is like a scholarship, but for people who have already completed a degree.
The fellowship recognizes people with talent and achievements, and helps them expand them even more. The idea of the fellowship is the expectation that those people will then pass on their new skills to others, by teaching, lecturing, and/or research.
In the case of a holistic veterinary fellowship, it does not rule out veterinarians who are in private practice, so a fellowship could be awarded to someone who makes a convincing case for how a fellowship would help not only them, but other veterinarians and clients who are interested in holistic medicine.
That person must also agree to put in the time and effort necessary for such training.
Foundation Fellowship Requirements for Candidates
The AHVM Foundation Fellowship pays the costs for a veterinarian to spend a year with a suitable veterinary school, studying, and participating in holistic veterinary medicine.
As part of the fellowship, candidates must go through the certification process for either veterinary acupuncture or any other certification program that has similar stringent requirements. Additional requirements:
- Candidates must participate in clinical service at the veterinary teaching hospital, helping with patients receiving holistic veterinary medical treatment
- They must complete a clinical research project that features integrative holistic veterinary medicine as the method to be investigated
- They must include lecturing as part of their activities as well as case reviews, literature reviews, and research reviews on integrative medicine in general, and on at least one specific aspect of integrative medicine in particular
All these requirements must be completed in one year.
Fellowship Winners Are Completely Immersed in Integrative Veterinary Medicine
Veterinarians in other graduate programs in veterinary schools, including internships and residencies, perform some of these tasks, but there is no emphasis on integrative medicine. In fact, they are lucky to stumble across anything other than conventional medicine.
With an AHVM Foundation fellowship, however, candidates are guided by an integrative veterinary medical advisor, and the focus is exclusively on integrative cases. The reviews and lectures help prepare them for in-depth studies, publishing research (even if it is done at their own veterinary hospital), and lecturing to other veterinarians at meetings.
By practicing at a veterinary teaching hospital, they have the support of their advisor while they become accustomed to talking to non-integrative veterinarians and presenting information in a way those veterinarians will be more receptive to. And by doing all this with a recognized veterinary school, they will help contribute to the fund of quality research which will show veterinarians that they should practice integrative veterinary medicine.
Integrative veterinary research has only recently begun an exponential increase in growth. While private integrative veterinary specialty training programs have shown a similar increase in enrollment, the same thing cannot be said for integrative medicine in veterinary schools.
By introducing integrative veterinary fellowships to veterinary schools in general, more and more veterinarians and veterinary students will be exposed to the ideas and practice of this type of medicine. That means one more way that better medicine will become available for your pets.
Fellowship Requirements for Veterinary Schools
But wait, there’s more!
By establishing the fellowship as an award for veterinary schools, we help those schools fund more integrative medicine, and give them more reason to have such a program in the first place. This promotes integrative medicine among all the veterinary schools, which results in benefits for pet owners, and a reason for them to look for integrative methods to treat pets.
More faculty members in veterinary schools who promote integrative medicine means more veterinary students who are exposed to integrative medicine. Even if they do not use it in their practice, they are more likely to refer to veterinarians who do, whenever they are challenged by a chronic disease that conventional medicine has no answers for.
To be able to award this fellowship, a veterinary school must meet several criteria:
- The school must have in place a faculty advisor who has the skills and knowledge to be a mentor for the fellowship
- It must have enough integrative cases that the fellowship winner will have a full amount of cases to see and consult on
- It must be familiar enough with the literature to be able to guide the fellowship winner in their reviews of literature and research
- It must be supportive of integrative veterinary medicine so the fellowship winner can take full advantage of all their required activities
The Foundation’s First Fellow, Danielle Conway, Is an Ideal Ambassador for the Program
Danielle Conway, the first recipient of the AHVM Foundation fellowship, is a perfect example of the type of person who will apply her skills to perform quality practice, and spread the word among other veterinarians.
Dr. Conway began her fellowship at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and she will be completing it at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Danielle’s special field of interest is nutrition, looked at in an integrative way. So she will be introducing some new ideas to board-certified nutritionists and, because of her stature, this new work will be taken seriously instead of being discarded.
Dr. Conway is a delightful person to talk to, and the ideal ambassador for this program. We have just enough money to fund this fellowship for her. But, once she is finished with her fellowship, the program is over. There will not be any leftover money for the next deserving person to use.
Do you want to bring integrative medicine to more veterinary schools? Do you want to see quality integrative medicine practiced by more veterinarians?
We need more ambassadors like Dr. Conway to help pave the way. Please give to support the next fellowship program, so we can keep this wonderful prize going and train the cream of the crop!
Support the AHVM Fellowship and see the effects multiply!
How You Can Help
To donate, go to the AHVMF website, click on Ways to Give on the top menu, and there you’ll find a number of different ways to make a donation. If you’re not comfortable donating online, scroll down to the bottom of the Ways to Give page, and you’ll see a Ways to Donate Online and Offline link.
At AHVMF.org, you can also read amazing stories of animals who have been healed with holistic medicine, as well as stories of animal teachers. There’s also a blog that reports on some of the projects the foundation is working on. If you have any questions while visiting the site, you can send the foundation an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.