Dr. Kate Vickery, V.M.D., M.S., DACVIM (Oncology), C.V.A.Assistant Professor, Medical Oncology
I love practicing medicine – it’s an art that combines the things I enjoy most: science, problem-solving, communication, and compassionate care. I have always wanted to be a clinician. In my undergraduate program at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, I majored in biology/pre-med with a focus on molecular genetics. My intention was to apply to medical school; however, in my senior year, I got cold feet and decided to postpone this training. Looking back, this was an excellent decision that granted freedom to explore other options.
After graduating from King’s, I joined Dr. Rich Spielman’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine. Dr. Spielman was a leader and innovator in statistical genetics. I gained experience in benchtop research working on familial genetics studies of polycystic ovarian syndrome in women. During this time, I also volunteered at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital. These experiences solidified my interest in genetics and veterinary medicine.
In my senior year of veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania, I met Dr. Craig Clifford, who, at the time, was a resident on the oncology service. During this rotation, I learned that genes play a large role in cancer development. I was hooked by the genetics but what inspired me, even more, was Dr. Clifford’s positive energy for his patients and clients. After this experience, I knew that I was meant to be an oncologist – it combined my love for genetics, patient care, and problem-solving.
In 2005, I began residency training in medical oncology at the Flint Animal Cancer Center. I was impressed by the warm working environment – it was a big group that combined medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology – but despite the size, the culture was that of a family, all working together with the same goal. My experience at FACC as a resident provided a solid foundation to build upon and in 2008, I graduated from residency and began a career in private practice.
My goal in private practice was to gain as much experience as possible diagnosing and treating patients with cancer. During this time, I gained real-world experience - what works, what does not work, and most importantly, how to provide the best care for the individual patient. As my clinical career developed, I became interested in novel ways to support the cancer patient’s quality of life. In researching this topic, I found that acupuncture is a tool that may help reduce treatment side effects in human-based oncology. This led to me completing course work and becoming certified in veterinary acupuncture.
I was in private practice from 2008-2019. I loved my patients, clients, and colleagues in private practice, but ultimately, I missed teaching, so when the faculty position opened at the FACC, I jumped at the chance. My goals at the FACC are to provide the students and residents with practical knowledge, ‘from the field’ and to help them navigate the various demands of their new careers. I hope to teach by demonstration, how to provide the best personalized care to each patient and pet parent. I also intend to research how acupuncture may play a role in supporting the veterinary oncology patient.
I enjoy my career, but I also love being a wife, daughter, and “cool aunt” to my nieces and nephews. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and exploring the National Parks, practicing yoga, running, weightlifting, and doing anything outside.