Dr. Amanda Tallant at work in the WCVM's Veterinary Medical Centre. Photo: Melissa Cavanagh.

Surgical resident’s career goes cross country

Dr. Amanda Tallant's passion for veterinary medicine has led the small animal surgical resident to travel across North America — and even to an island in the Caribbean — in pursuit of her goals.

But while growing up in Georgia, Tallant didn't always know she wanted to be a veterinarian. Other career options in human medicine were also on the table.

"I think I always had a medical interest," recalls Tallant. "But I worked for an animal shelter when I was in high school and I kind of gravitated towards veterinary medicine."

Tallant attained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Ross University, a privately-owned educational institution that's located on the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean Sea.

"It's different cultural surroundings," says Tallant. "Everybody jokes about studying on the beach, but I don't know that I spent that much time on the beach so much as in an air conditioned library."

With no breaks between the DVM program's seven semesters, veterinary students at Ross University finish their degree in three and a half years instead of four. Another attraction for Tallant is that the university takes new students at three different times of the year.

"I was in exchange for my senior year of college so I didn't really want to wait for traditional school application deadlines," explains Tallant, adding that most other veterinary schools accept new students only once per year.

After completing her DVM degree, Tallant moved on to New York where she first worked as a general clinical intern and then as a surgical intern at a veterinary clinic located between the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the Hamptons.

"It was a different clientele — it was interesting, and I learned a lot there," says Tallant.

Tallant came to the WCVM in 2011 when a clinical associate position opened up at the college's Veterinary Medical Centre.

"It's nice to come back to academia and teaching. It's sort of a challenge but it's fun," says Tallant who began her combined surgical residency and Master of Veterinary Science degree program in 2012.

Now Tallant's days start around 7:30 a.m., and her schedule is packed with rounds, appointments, surgeries and sometimes teaching until she finally heads home anytime between 6 and 10 p.m.

Dr. Amanda Tallant at work in the WCVM's Veterinary Medical Centre. Photo: Melissa Cavanagh.

"Unless I'm on call in which case sometimes I don't go home."

As part of her graduate program, Tallant is developing and testing a new surgical approach that may help to reduce the risk of removing bones, toys and other foreign objects from dogs' esophaguses.

Tallant finds this project interesting thanks to her keen interest in surgery, particularly soft tissue surgery.

The surgical residency is three years long, but Tallant is already contemplating whether to do an oncology residency afterwards.

"We'll see how I feel after three years," says Tallant with a laugh.

Melissa Cavanagh of Winnipeg, Man., is a second-year veterinary student who is the WCVM's research communications intern for the summer of 2013.
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