Sunday Success - Dr. Tiffany Moore
Who is Tiffany Moore?
I was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and moved to Barbados at age seven with my parents. I lived in Barbados from age seven to eighteen, after which I migrated back to the USA to pursue my career in veterinary medicine. Some of my favourite past times are cooking, reading, dancing, modeling, and traveling. I am an avid Harry Potter fan and anyone who’s ever met me also knows I love every and anything the colour pink. I have always loved race cars and my dream car had always been a Toyota Altezza, which I was blessed enough to be able to own during veterinary school. Now I own a Ford Mustang convertible that I got myself as a graduation gift, because why not right? After graduating, I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where I am currently working in a small animal hospital amongst thirteen fellow veterinarians.
What does your day to day entail?
In many fields of medicine, a day at work can range vastly from walking through a rose garden to walking through Jurassic Park. Some days might entail what people believe we (veterinarians) do, which is cuddling puppies and kittens, while other days are the ones that bring painful tears from your eyes. Euthanizing animals will always be the least fun part of my job. Nothing hurts more than being the bearer of bad news and also the one who has to put the animal to sleep while the owner is mourning in front of you.
After some of my 9-hour, sometimes 11-hour shifts at work, I might go to the gym to let off some steam, or just routinely drop the top in my car while driving home listening to music, and soaking up the beautiful desert scenery here in Las Vegas.
How did your interest in veterinary medicine develop?
Ever since I was about 4 years old, I grew a love for animals. Being an only child, I have always had pets as companions, so it became second nature to me to care for them. As I grew into adolescence, I began to explore modeling, which had always been an interest of mine, thanks to my obsession at the time with Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model competition. I thought about pursuing a career in modeling, but I knew that wouldn’t be a long term choice, plus I still truly desired nothing more than to be in a field which involves working with animals. Another career I considered during my adolescence, was becoming a Disc Jockey. Due to my love for music and entertainment, I began to spend numerous hours online after school experimenting with Virtual DJ, and I had even gone as far as to apply to Barbados Community College to study Mass Communications, but that particular career choice was not supported strongly by my parents, so I digressed. My passion for animal welfare and science never wavered, so when I became eighteen, I migrated back to the USA to pursue my veterinary career.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a Veterinarian.
Becoming a veterinarian was in no means “easy”. I began my journey by obtaining an associates degree in Veterinary Science Technology (analogous to a veterinary nurse). My experience at that particular institution was a wonderful one. I graduated in 2014 with the Outstanding Associate Graduate Award, Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, two National Honor Society memberships, and the Highest GPA in my Program. Even with all the achievements that I had obtained at that school, my dream school, Cornell University, still rejected my application for their Animal Science bachelor program. I was devastated.
To have done so well, and still not feel like it was good enough for Cornell, was a tough cookie to swallow. However, I kept my chin up, and applied elsewhere and was accepted for my bachelor’s in Animal Science. This second institution was definitely a different experience from the first. I endured direct racism from some of my professors, who also constantly discouraged pre-vet students from pursuing veterinary medicine because of the overwhelming debt that follows. Many of my classmates changed their career goals after being influenced by said professors, but that wasn’t going to deter me. I came here with one goal in mind, and I am going to achieve it by any means necessary.
I completed my program at that school and applied independently to two veterinary schools. Ross University accepted me first, and even offered me a spot in the January class versus the May class that I had applied for. Since I was finishing my final semester in December, I was taken aback at how much sooner I would be beginning my dream of going to vet school and I began packing ecstatically. I moved from New York to Saint Kitts on January 1st, 2017, and began their accelerated Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. I expected vet school to be difficult, but leave it to me to choose an accelerated vet school! Three semesters a year, with two week breaks in between quickly took a toll on the mind and body. I loved my experience at RUSVM, but it sure was challenging. Financially, emotionally, and physically exhausting.
In my second year of vet school, I made a huge sacrifice and purchased my very own Toyota Altezza, only to have it totalled nine days later, in a head-on collision caused by a tourist who was driving on the wrong side of the road. God spared the lives of all of the passengers involved and my car definitely took the force of the damage that could have killed us. That accident had me out of school for two weeks and resorting to online learning (much to my dislike), but I was alive and still here to continue my journey! I completed my pre-clinical curriculum at RUSVM and then went to Louisiana State University, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to complete my clinical year. Clinical year was definitely more favorable than pre-clinics in my opinion, because it was more hands-on and inclusive.
It was amazing being able to diagnose and treat cases that you’ve been learning about for the past couple years in textbooks. Clinics also came with its fair share of lows. Being closer to the end of the ladder to D.V.M was exciting and honestly scary. I began to realize that I will be the one taking full responsibility for these lives soon. There will no longer be a professor to lean on for support in the real world after graduation. Even though I have acquired substantial debt, spent numerous nights crying wondering if I was really capable of achieving this goal, spent endless hours studying hundreds of pages of information, lost numerous hours of sleep, I would do it all again if I had to. Vet school was most definitely the most amazing time of my life to date, and I am so grateful to have been able to enjoy it while living on a beautiful island.
One of the most important things that I grew to learn after having to live on my own since age eighteen, was the fact that YOU are the one who creates YOUR destiny (after God of course!). You have to know what YOU want to do with your life and be willing to make the necessary sacrifices and be ready to face the challenges that WILL arise. I ensured that I kept my head up against the adversaries and held my passion close to my heart through all of my tribulations and I did it! So can you!
What do you love most about what you do?
The eyes are the key to the soul and I can attest that is very true with animals, especially since they can’t speak to us. Some of my patients come into the hospital terrified, trembling like a leaf, even urinating and defecating on themselves, or on us, (oh yea, risking getting urine, feces, vomit or anal glands on you every day, also adds a little spice to the job lol) out of fright, but with the right amount of patience, a tender loving voice, and a gentle touch, some of them calm down and realize that we are here to help them. The loving look that patients like these give to me when they realize we are helping them, is what melts my heart most days. I do also love seeing cute puppies and kittens every once in a while though! I enjoy the unpredictability of medicine, and being able to help provide a diagnosis for clients who were at their last straw on trying to figure out what is going on with their companions. There are also days that you’ll see your patients for their recheck exam and they are growing and healing well, and their families are relieved and joyful. Those are the days that make the stress worth it.
How would you advise a budding professional to enter the field?
My advice would be to solidify your science and math knowledge and obtain as much animal-related experience possible. I began by volunteering at the RSPCA during summer breaks from secondary school and then I worked as a Licensed Veterinary Technician on breaks during college. Most veterinary schools require a bachelors degree or equivalent pre-requisites (maths and sciences mostly). Prepare for the financial weight of veterinary school as much as you can (scholarships, grants, etc. can be beneficial) but don’t let it deter you. Try to find someone in the field to mentor you and advise you along the way, because don’t forget, GOOD references are important.
Tell us your most memorable achievement to date.
Obtaining my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree of course! Seeing that diploma hung on my bedroom wall every day, reminds me that a childhood dream can be accomplished as long as you keep your foot on the peddle.