Spending an hour with Dr. Kimberly Ann Therrien is an inspiration. As a Canadian customs officer for 10 years before becoming a veterinarian, Kim developed leadership skills in a non-traditional setting. Her early veterinary career experience working 100 hours a week, feeling like she wanted to learn from everyone else around her while still filling in as a Canadian customs officer when needed, led to burnout. Kim took this challenge as an opportunity to start fresh in a new way. She and her husband packed up their lives and drove south, all the way to Florida! She started working for Banfield and created a much healthier work-life balance for herself. She now lives in Kentucky with her two daughters, Cassie and Danica, and her husband, Danny. Here is our interview:
Why did you want to join WVLDI?
Karen Bradley, founder of WVLDI, encouraged me to join. I met her during a Veterinary Leadership Conference (VLC) networking breakfast event when I was the Banfield sponsor representative about 5 years ago. Karen was working with Sarah Wooten on a presentation focused on Leadership Journeys to show people that there are alternative leadership pathways. She felt my leadership journey would resonate with many and so invited me to join. This was the start of an amazing mentorship relationship and opened up more opportunities for me to present at large Conferences and to become a part of WVLDI. My passion for leadership and the many challenges that veterinarians face within our profession is what energized me about the opportunity to join WVLDI, knowing I would be able to be a part of shaping the future of veterinary medicine.

What is your day job?
I am currently the Vice President of Veterinary Quality at Banfield for the Central and Midwest regions. I am responsible for ensuring high-quality medicine across 20 markets and 300+ hospitals and have nine direct reports (Directors of Veterinary Quality) that each provides medical and leadership support to approximately 30-35 hospitals. I also serve as a board member of the Banfield Foundation since 2016 and most recently was appointed as a founding board member of the newly established AVMA DEI Commission. Pre-COVID, I use to visit with one of my direct reports in their respective market(state) from Tues-Th.

Now, all my work is virtual due to COVID travel restrictions which offers me the opportunity to visit virtually more often with my direct reports. My girls have grown up with mommy, always traveling. They have never really known anything else. Over time we developed ways to ensure I was still able to be part of their evening routines, leveraging FaceTime. Daddy time is a little different, and can sometimes be less structured, so I think they like my weekly travels. There are many women who think that without their home things will fall apart, but they don’t! It is good for everyone to have a little time apart and it has forced me to be intentional with how I spend my time when I am home with my family.

What do you love most about being a veterinarian?
When I first graduated, I loved surgery and the ability to keep families and their pets together. Over time, the concept of Servant Leadership quickly became more important – and so the ability to help others achieve success, however they define it, is now what energizes me most.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a veterinarian?
Personally and professionally, my biggest challenge has often been letting go of perfectionism, paying attention to my own well-being, and being really intentional about taking care of myself and setting boundaries. I think some of this comes from being a woman leader in a profession that was once very male-dominated and where higher-level roles in this profession are still difficult to come by when you are a female, which is why the work of WVLDI is so important.

What advice would you give to young people who aspire to be veterinarians?
I would be sure to let young veterinarians know that they can give themselves grace and expect some failed moments – those are the moments when you know you are still learning and growing. These moments may feel highly uncomfortable but when you really embrace them big things happen. I’d also encourage not just mentorship but also sponsorship. The power of networking is huge and I wish I would have started sooner in my career.

What surprises you about how you got where you are now?
Every leadership opportunity I have ever accepted was frequently at the recommendation of a mentor. Oftentimes, we do not always see what others see in us. Trust what others know you are capable of and don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith. Not being paralyzed by the fear of the unknown or the “what ifs” has paid dividends for me.

Tell us about your non-veterinary-related passion projects/hobbies.
As you can imagine, much of my spare time is filled with family activities. The girls are involved in sports (soccer, gymnastics, shooting sports) and horseback riding. Most of our Sundays are spent at the horse farm. Otherwise, you will find us outdoors camping. hiking, and/or biking. During the summer, I love to garden and any water sports. Nature is how I recharge. What are you most excited about going forward for WVLDI: I’m thrilled will all that WVLDI accomplished in 2020. We refreshed our website, started offering GoTo Webinars, leveraged our social media platforms, presented at virtual Vet Conferences (offering 30+ hours of continuing education) and we spent time updating our purpose, mission and vision so that it would represent more accurately the evolution of WVLDI. I’m really excited for 2021 and all that we will achieve as a board and the impact we will have within this great profession.

Profile by Dr. Annie Wayne.