Dr. Church earned his veterinary degree from Oregon State University in 2002. After graduation he completed a one-year internship at Cornell University followed by a cardiology residency and Master of Science degree at the University of Illinois. He finished the last year of his residency at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Church moved to Arizona with his family in 2006 to provide specialized cardiology services. He enjoys partnering with primary care veterinarians to care for patients and their families throughout the region. His special areas of interest include pericardial diseases, echocardiography, and interventional cardiovascular procedures.
Dr. Church received a number of grants and awards which include: the ACVIM Cardiology Resident Research Grant, the University of Illinois Small Animal Departmental Research Grant, and the Salsbury Scholarship. He lectures all over the country at both national and local continuing education conferences. Dr. Church is also a founding member of the Cardiac Education Group.
Dr. Kathryn Atkinson received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Ontario Veterinary College where she also pursued a one year rotating small animal internship. Her professional career also includes four years practicing general medicine and emergency medicine in Ottawa and Vancouver. She completed a three year residency in veterinary cardiology and a Master of Science degree at the University of Missouri. She received her board certification through the American College of Internal Medicine in 2008. After practicing as a veterinary cardiologist for five years at a cardiology specialty practice in the Pacific Northwest, she relocated to Phoenix to join Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists in December 2013. During her residency, she was the recipient of an ACVIM Cardiology Resident Research grant, a University of Missouri VMTH COR grant, and an American Kennel Club ACORN grant for her work investigating a novel therapy in the treatment of canine pulmonary hypertension.
She is the author of several peer-reviewed scientific papers and book chapters. An accomplished presenter, Dr. Atkinson enjoys speaking engagements with veterinarians all over the country. Her areas of special interest include congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, management of congestive heart failure, and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias.
Dr. Atkinson, her husband Tom, and their daughter Elise, share their home and their hearts with “Wenckebach”, a Doberman, and “Lucy”, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They look forward to welcoming a Devon Rex cat into their family soon.
Dr. Bailey received her veterinary medical training at Kansas State University in 2002. Following a one-year internship program at VCA South Shore Animal Hospital, Dr. Bailey continued her training with a residency in small animal internal medicine at Louisiana State University. After the completion of her residency in July 2005, Dr. Bailey relocated to Phoenix to join Arizona Veterinary Internal Medicine, now Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists. She has a special interest in infectious diseases, respiratory diseases, gastroenterology, and endocrinology. She enjoys internal medicine because of the variety of challenging cases that often include multiple body systems.
Dr. Bailey’s commitment to advance veterinary medicine is evidenced by the many charities and associations she serves. She currently holds a seat on the board of directors of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation, is the Chair of the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association Public Relations Committee, and a member of the Phoenix Zoo Animal Health Advisory Committee.
Dr. Riensche received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Iowa State University in 2004. After graduation she completed a one-year rotating internship at VCA Animal Referral and Emergency Center of Arizona. Dr. Riensche then continued her training in internal medicine with a residency at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Following her residency, Dr. Riensche relocated back to Phoenix to join the staff of Arizona Veterinary Internal Medicine, and is one of four partners in Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists. She has particular interests in nephrology, gastroenterology, infectious disease, respiratory medicine, and endocrine diseases. She shares her home with her husband Brian, 2 dogs named Hunter and Barrett Jackson, and 1 cat named Shelby. In her spare time she enjoys sharing a comfy spot with her pets while reading, hiking and biking, interior decorating, and art projects.
Dr. Heffelman is a native of Colorado and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Colorado State University in 2004, where she quickly discovered her love for all things in radiology. After graduation, she completed a small animal medicine and surgery rotating internship at a private practice in Colorado followed by an additional year in private practice as an associate veterinarian. Dr. Heffelman then completed a diagnostic imaging residency at Michigan State University in 2009, and became board certified later that year. She and her husband moved back to the West for the mountains, sun, and great climate. She was excited to join Arizona Veterinary Specialists and, soon thereafter, to become a partner in Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists. Her special areas of interest include abdominal ultrasound, CT, and nuclear medicine. She lives with her husband Richard, Welsh Corgie named Quinn, and tabby cat, Piccolo, and enjoys traveling, spending time with family, movies, hiking, and enjoying all that Arizona and the southwest has to offer!
Since she was a child, Kathy knew she wanted to work with animals. In high school she was involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and grew up with a variety of family pets. As Kathy began her career, she found herself in management in the retail and food industry. But her passion for the animals motivated her to move into veterinary medicine where she has worked for nearly 17 years. Beginning as a veterinary technician, Kathy continued to pursue additional training and responsibilities and now enjoys business administration by working as a practice manager. Outside of work Kathy enjoys playing softball, reading, and spending time with her husband and two teenage daughters as well as her family pets, 2 dogs and 2 cats (all rescues).
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Darlene is originally from East St. Paul, Minnesota, and moved to Arizona 15 years ago. Darlene has been a veterinary receptionist for 10 years and joined Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists in 2012. We are happy to have her as part of our team as she is always smiling and enjoys assisting our clients and patients. She is married to Lyn, with two great girls, Krissy and Tina. She has a black lab named Shaynaynay, a chocolate lab grand-dog named Sadie, and has had the experience of owning and riding horses. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and riding motorcycles.
Andrea is originally from Kansas. She grew up running around with her grandpa who was a retired veterinarian so she’s been around animals her whole life and has had pet cows, horses, a menagerie of cats and dogs, rabbits, and several toads. Andrea moved to Arizona six years ago and has been working for Arizona Veterinary Internal Medicine, now Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists, the entire time. We are fortunate that she has stayed with us for so long as she is always willing to help and keeps everything running smoothly! Currently she is owned by Vaughn, a Border Collie, and Sona, a Min Pin-Italian Greyhound mix. In her free time she likes to cook, read, go to concerts, and spend time outdoors.
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Danette grew up in Montana and graduated from the University of Montana with a BS in Business Management. She moved to Arizona in 1994 and worked for several years as an Office Manager before deciding to change career paths. She attended and completed the Veterinary Technology program at Pima Medical Institute and has been working as a technician in general practice since 2004. She joined the Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists team in August of 2012 and thoroughly enjoys working in our Internal Medicine department. We are fortunate to have her on our team, as she always has a positive and determined attitude. Danette currently has 1 cat, Wyle, and 2 dogs, Moon and Starla. She enjoys walking and training her dogs, is an avid reader and likes to spend her leisure time with her friends or relaxing at home.
Luke is from Connecticut with Midwestern ties and got his BS in Animal Science from Cornell University in 1995. He worked as a veterinary technician in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for 4 1/2 years before jumping into the culinary field. After 8 years working as a professional chef, he happily returned to veterinary medicine with Arizona Veterinary Internal Medicine, now Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists, and couldn't be happier. We are happy to have Luke as part of our team, as he is always willing to help, can anticipate what we need, and loves his clients and their pets. He currently lives with two active 3 year old dogs - Deimos and Sherman. He loves to travel and hike and has visited Russia, Italy, and spent a semester of college in Sydney, Australia.
Dina grew up in Chicago and moved to Arizona in 2003 to escape the Midwestern winters. She has been working as a veterinary technician since 1997, and originally joined Arizona Veterinary Specialists in Surgery. Two years after Dr. Church joined Arizona Veterinary Internal Medicine, now Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists, we were lucky to have Dina join us to keep Cardiology running smoothly. Dina is such an asset since she is organized, can handle a large workload, and is always positive. She is married to Dave, and they have two wonderful children, Sophia and Jack, and 2 pit bulls, Petunia and Violet.
Jessie is originally from North Dakota but grew up primarily in Rapid City, SD. She graduated in 2009 with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science with an emphasis in veterinary technology. While in school, she acquired her first dog, Sage, who was a patient the students practiced on and Jessie formed a special bond with. After graduation, she worked in general practice in South Dakota and moved to Arizona in 2010 with Sage and one cat, Ivy. She has since acquired 3 more dogs (Ryder, Basil, and Myka), who fit into the family perfectly. Jessie joined Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists in 2012 and is a great asset to our team. Jessie is outgoing, friendly, and her attitude and kindness really show that she loves what she does. In her free time she loves to be outside with her pets, playing disc golf, and going to the pool or reading on the sideline.
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Katie was born in Germany and, as a military child, has lived in many places throughout the U.S. Her family eventually settled in Arizona. She has wanted to work with animals since she was a child when she discovered her dog loved her back rubs! She completed a nursing and veterinary technician program through her high school and began work as a veterinary technician in 2004. She joined Arizona Veterinary Internal Medicine, now Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists, in 2007. She has loved learning more about Internal Medicine every day and we love that she is so sweet and caring to our clients and patients! Katie and her wonderful husband, Sean, have 2 dogs, Red and Seamus, and 2 cats, Wesley and Butters. Recently, they have added a new member to their family – a son, Izaak, and are sure Izaak will love animals as much as they do. In her spare time, Katie enjoys going out to eat, watching movies, and riding dirt bikes with her husband.
Angie was born in Minnesota but moved here with her family in the late 1990s. She went to high school in Chandler and got her Associates Degree in Applied Sciences shortly thereafter. Caring for animals has always been her number one priority and she has been known to bring home many stray animals. The most recent addition to Desert Veterinary Medical Specialists, she is excited to work with a team known for being especially caring and knowledgeable, and we are excited to have her caring and conscientious attitude to help with our hospitalized patients. She currently has 2 dogs- Ginger and Harvey, 2 cats- Pigeon and Gutter Ball, 2 mice- Raven and Mulligan, and a deaf ferret named Jinkies. Outside of work she can be found eating foods of all kinds, spending time with family, practicing Reiki, fostering kittens, or pet sitting.
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