Full-speed ahead

Intern Tasha Faletti, VI23, gains research experience and publishes paper on path toward surgical residency
Three veterinarians perform a surgical procedure.
Dr. Ray Kudej (he/him), Dr. Tasha Faletti, VI23 (she/her); and Samantha Prusak, V23 (she/her) perform a ureteral diverticulum. Photo: Dr. Riley Aronson

For aspiring surgeons, the road to a coveted surgical residency can be a winding one. Former Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine intern Tasha Faletti, VI23 (she/her), who served as a small animal rotating intern in 2022–2023, hopes to take what she has learned to blaze a trail to such a position.

“We had 170 applicants for one surgical residency position last year, and probably 25 of the applicants were outstanding,” admits Dr. Raymond Kudej (he/him), a board-certified small animal surgeon at Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals and an associate professor in Cummings School’s Department of Clinical Sciences.

After earning a D.V.M. from St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine in Grenada, Faletti sought an academic internship with multiple criticalists and surgeons, where she could strengthen her emergency and surgery skills. “My goal was to become a well-rounded clinician first and follow a path toward residency second,” she explains. 

Cummings School was recommended to her by an emergency and critical care resident that had completed their rotating internship on the Grafton campus. “It is a hands-on program with a lot of primary case responsibility and opportunities for new doctors to perform common procedures and surgeries,” says Faletti.

During her yearlong appointment, Faletti collaborated with Kudej and others to study the prevalence of disc surgeries among French bulldogs. The short-nosed canines are currently the most popular breed in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. “Ten years ago, we would do about two [disc surgeries on French Bulldogs] each year, now we do 12,” says Kudej.

Cummings School examined the five most common breeds it sees at Foster Hospital, including French bulldogs, and analyzed how much more the number of disc surgeries have increased in comparison to the total number of that breed among its clients.

The study concluded that despite the increase in the incidence of French bulldogs needing disc surgery, there was not an increase in prevalence.

The abstract was accepted for publication by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). Listed as the lead author, Faletti will present this research project at the ACVS Surgery Summit in October, which she will attend for the first time.

“We are happy to work with students on research to get their name on a published paper, which helps them to stand out among a crowded field of talented clinicians,” says Kudej.

Doing this research project with Dr. Kudej provided me with a new perspective on the effort needed to develop the papers that allow clinicians to perform evidence-based medicine, Faletti shares. This project was an excellent start for my career as a pioneer in future research.

Faletti acknowledges a diversity of skills she gained during her internship—most importantly, her rising confidence as a new doctor. “With guidance from the faculty, I became confident to create the best plan for my patients and their families,” she says.

With her advanced skills and confidence, Faletti has begun a small animal surgical internship at Guardian Veterinary Specialists in New York. “Here, I will continue my path in research while developing my knowledge and skills in surgery. I hope to continue my career in small animal surgery with a surgical residency to eventually become a boarded veterinary surgeon.”