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Career Spotlight: Jennifer Kim

Published on: Sep 5, 2023

Jennifer Kim Career Spotlight

This is the latest in a series of interviews with Board-certified veterinary specialists of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) to share insights, knowledge and expertise about career opportunities, growth and development. Today we hear from Board-certified Veterinary Oncologist and President of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association Dr. Jennifer Kim.

Dr. Kim grew up in New York and received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania. After two years at the National Cancer Institute performing cancer genetic research, she attended veterinary school at Tufts University. Dr. Kim completed a rotating internship at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, New York, and an oncology internship at Cornell University. She then did her residency in medical oncology at Michigan State University School of Veterinary Medicine. In addition to volunteering with ACVIM, Dr. Kim is currently the president of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association.

What inspired you to become a Board-certified veterinary specialist?

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:

  • Do what is right, not what is easy. 
  • You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. 
  • If you have not seen something you have not seen before this week you are not looking hard enough.

Is there a story or experience that stands out in your mind that reaffirmed your decision to work in specialty veterinary medicine?

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.

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.

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.


Learn more about the ACVIM and ACVIM Diplomates >>