Phone: (757) 473-8560
Fax: (757) 473-1568
4608 Pembroke Blvd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Mon - Fri: 8am - 6pm
Sat: 9am - 1pm

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Our Team

The team at Independence Veterinary Hospital is comprised of highly trained and experienced animal health professionals who have a genuine love for working with pets. Our staff treats every patient with the highest quality of medical care as well as a gentle touch.

Derrick Kier, DVM


As a young boy, Dr. Kier enjoyed interacting with any animal he could get his hands on, both domesticated and wild. He enjoyed reading books written by James Herriot, a British veterinary surgeon and obtained the Veterinary Science merit badge on his journey to become an Eagle Scout. By the age of 12, Dr. Kier knew he wanted to be a veterinarian when he “grew up”.

Dr. Kier attended Virginia Tech where he earned a Bachelor of Science with a major in Wildlife Science and minors in Animal Science and Biology. During his undergraduate studies, Dr. Kier volunteered at the New River Valley Wildlife Center and had a summer internship with the veterinary service at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aviary. He also worked at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine where he met Dr. Smithwick.

After graduation, Dr. Kier worked in a research lab studying parasites of companion animals and livestock. A few years later he taught a veterinary assistant program at a trade school before attending Ross University School of Veterinary, located on the island of St. Kitts, in the West Indies. His senior year studies were completed at the University of Georgia.

When not working at the hospital, Dr. Kier enjoys fishing, boating, camping, hiking, rugby, soccer, skeet shooting, and darts. Although he is a veterinarian now, Dr. Smithwick feels he still hasn’t “grown-up”.

Karen Smithwick, DVM


“I have lived with animals my entire life; I owned my horse for 21 years, my childhood dog for 15 years, and my beloved cat for 20 years. I hang on tight. The pleasure of rehoming a foster pet, or rehabilitating injured animals warms my heart. My dad had a soft spot for cats, so there was always one in the house. My grandparents would feed strays at thier farmette in Matthews County. My husband, Dr. Kier, and our children have fostered many cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, and turtles".

Karen Smithwick, DVM is a native of Virginia. After attending Old Dominion University for her undergraduate studies, she went on to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. She has been practicing small animal medicine focusing primarily on emergency and critical care, with interests in preventative care, surgery and geriatric patients. Dr. Smithwick loves building strong client and patient relationships and helping the human-animal bond thrive through health and wellness.

Dr. Smithwick and Dr. Kier met and married at Virginia Tech, and have raised three children in Virginia Beach. They have two rescue dogs, an Australian Shepard (Bindi) and an Australian Cattle Dog (Opal), plus a Maine coon cat, and three additional cats of dubious lineage. In her spare time, she enjoys walking with her dogs on the beach, traveling, gardening, boating, and reading. She looks forward to growing the practice and serving the community.


Richard B. Johnston, DVM


Dr. Johnston started with us in 2013. After an overwhelming amount of client praise, he decided to come and be our new full-time doctor in May of 2015. Dr. Johnston got his undergrad and his degree for Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida (Go Gators!).

Dr. Johnston has been caring for animals for 30+ years. If you haven't met Dr. Johnston be sure to come say hi!

Morgan Huffman, LVT

Practice Manager, Licensed Veterinary Technician

Patty Trainum, LVT

Licensed Veterinary Technician




Veterinary Assistant


Veterinary Assistant


Veterinary Assistant/Receptionist


Veterinary Assistant


Veterinary Assistant


Veterinary Assistant




Veterinary Assistant/Receptionist


Veterinary Assistant