Dr. Jennifer Mahoney planned to major in economics at Wellesley College, but her classes took her in an unexpected direction.
“I ended up enjoying my biology and genetics courses more than my economics courses,” she said.
She pivoted her career plans, deciding to become a veterinarian, specializing in oncology, and went on to earn her DVM at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. She then completed a rotating internship in medicine and surgery at the Animal Medical Center in New York City.
“It’s one of the busiest internship programs in the country, so I saw a lot of cases with the support of board-certified clinicians, including specialists in oncology,” she said.
Returning to North Carolina State University for her oncology residency, Dr. Mahoney also published research on the genetic analysis of soft tissue sarcomas in dogs. Following completion of her residency, she became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in Oncology, and practiced at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.
Dr. Mahoney enjoyed the full caseload and teaching interns how to diagnose and treat cancer patients. She also practiced oncology at Upstate Veterinary Specialties in New York. These experiences sparked her interest in teaching and to apply for a position at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. She was hired as an assistant professor of clinical medical oncology.
Dr. Mahoney saw patients and taught students, rotating interns, and oncology residents in the clinic and classroom. Within two years, she was promoted to chief of the Comprehensive Cancer Care section, which included medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology.
During her time at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Mahoney was a member of the Penn Vet Cancer Center and participated in clinical trials investigating alternative therapies for two aggressive, common cancers in dogs: hemangiosarcoma, commonly found on the spleen, and osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. She also supported oncology residents with their own research projects and worked with other researchers in the Cancer Center to develop a cancer biology review course for residents. Two of her most rewarding roles were serving as the faculty advisor to first-year veterinary students and to a newly established Student Oncology Club.
Due to her interest in teaching, Dr. Mahoney was fortunate to be sponsored by her department at Penn Vet to pursue the Postgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Education through the Royal Veterinary College in the United Kingdom. Fifty veterinary professionals from around the world participated in the one-year, online program.
“It was interesting to hear the different perspectives, spanning from teaching on the clinical floor to teaching in the classroom to teaching residents,” said Dr. Mahoney. “We are trained as veterinarians, but never receive formal training as teachers. This course brought those together. I also learned a lot about virtual teaching, which became especially relevant during Covid.”
Dr. Mahoney became a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and plans to continue her studies at the Royal Veterinary College to earn her Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s of Science in Veterinary Education.
Two months ago, Dr. Mahoney returned to New England to join the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University as an associate clinical professor of medical oncology in the Department of Clinical Sciences. Her first day at Foster Hospital for Small Animals was December 1. She is looking forward to having more opportunities to teach students, interns, and residents, as well as participate in oncology clinical trials and working with the clinicians and technicians in the Harrington Oncology Program to provide exceptional care for patients and their families.
“I’ve had a great experience so far at Tufts,” said Dr. Mahoney. “Everyone’s been very welcoming.”