Dr. Jennifer Grady (V12) spent much of her childhood outside, watching wildlife and walking animals at shelters. She continued volunteering at a local shelter while earning her bachelor’s degree in biology at Kenyon College, and after graduation decided to pursue her DVM at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
“I came to Tufts for the opportunities in alternative careers, like shelter medicine and wildlife conservation,” said Dr. Grady. “I thought that was the path I was going to take.”
After completing her degree, Dr. Grady interned at Tufts VETS, treating small animals with the intention of honing her veterinary skills before moving into a nontraditional practice. Working mainly in the emergency room, Dr. Grady regularly interacted with animal owners and saw the challenges many faced in affording and accessing veterinary care.
“There were a lot of cases where I struggled to figure out a plan B or plan C when the gold standard couldn’t be met. I became interested in how to provide better care for people with limited resources and other barriers,” she said.
Over the next few years, Dr. Grady worked and volunteered at a number of organizations, including the Luke and Lily Lerner Spay/Neuter Clinic at Cummings School. She also practiced part-time at two animal shelters and Tufts Wildlife Clinic.
Dr. Grady first experienced community medicine volunteering at Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic. She was soon hired part-time and eventually full-time as a clinical assistant professor.
“I had a pivot from shelter and wildlife medicine to community care medicine,” said Dr. Grady. “Instead of taking care of animals without homes, we take a different strategy to keep animals in their homes and provide owners with the resources to take care of their pets.” She explained that these barriers range from the ability to pay for care to understanding English to simply getting to the clinic. She recently earned her certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) in Canine and Feline Practice to bring her practice to the next level in helping patients.
Dr. Grady also provides clinical support for research projects aimed at evaluating outcomes for different levels of care, such as surgery performed by students in a low-cost outpatient clinic compared to the same procedure performed by a surgeon at a specialty hospital. Other research at Tufts at Tech assessed obstacles to care faced by owners during the pandemic. Dr. Grady is additionally involved in antibiotic stewardship initiatives and collaborative research with the Internal Medicine department at Tufts.
“There are different ways to approach a problem. You can show levels on a spectrum of care, not just good care and bad care. There are many shades of gray,” she said.
To train her students, Dr. Grady shadows them instead of the reverse.
“I give students a lot of independence and trust to develop confidence in their own abilities and feel like a doctor before they graduate,” she explained.
Dr. Grady encourages students to problem-solve when pet owners face financial and other challenges, and also stresses work-life balance. Outside of the clinic, Dr. Grady spends her time with her two young daughters and husband, who runs an organic farm in Grafton.
While her career interests have shifted, Dr. Grady has found a home at Tufts at Tech, helping owners find sometimes creative solutions to care for their pets. Her colleagues at Tufts at Tech nominated her for the Artemis Award, recognizing clinical excellence, which she went on to receive at this year’s commencement ceremony.
“I like the collaboration at Tufts,” Dr. Grady said. “There are so many resources available, and everyone is happy to be involved and so generous with their time. It’s really a community.”