Andrea Y. Tu’s focus is scalpel sharp. Since graduating from Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010, she has dedicated most of her time and attention to becoming a leader in her community and the veterinary profession.
She began an internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital a few weeks after Cornell’s graduation ceremonies and was retained on-staff after the internship ended, working on a per diem basis. The internship, she said, was an essential step in her education.
“Cornell gave me a solid foundation,” Tu said. “Red Bank gave me the practice. The case load was amazing and provided the opportunity to hone my practical skills. While Red Bank Veterinary Hospital offered exceptional mentorship from some of the top specialists in their fields, during my overnight ER shifts I had to rely on my own knowledge much of the time. The problem-based learning approach at Cornell was a huge help, because it taught me how to think through cases.”
In January of 2012, she focused her attention on finding a full-time position. Three weeks later, she was rewarded with an associate position at Park East Animal Hospital in New York, a practice founded more than 50 years ago by Lewis H. Berman, DVM ’57.
“Dr. Berman is one of the greatest mentors I could have,” said Tu, who says she landed her dream job – in part – because of her affinity for building relationships with people. “He [Dr. Lewis Berman] is exceptional because he is dedicated to bettering the lives of both pets and their owners, largely by practicing the best veterinary medicine possible. His hospital is progressive; he encourages CE; and he invests in state-of-the-art equipment. More importantly, he has an amazing staff that not only shares his dedication to client and patient care, but are also some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Dr. Berman believes in teaching, and that commitment to a collaborative approach to medicine is evident in the mentorship and unified work environment amongst the doctors at Park East Animal Hospital. There could not be a better fit for me.”
Although some people try to leave work at work, much of Tu’s world revolves around veterinary medicine. She is a member of the New York City Veterinary Medical Association, which provides her an opportunity to learn and to develop professional networks; she has volunteered twice at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, helping to triage competitors that needed veterinary medical attention; she frequently speaks to the pre-vet club at Barnard College of Columbia University, her undergraduate alma mater; she was an alumni staffer at the Bronx Healthy Pet Clinic last fall and plans to assist at the Healthy Pet Clinic in Brooklyn in May; and she is the Veterinary Medical Advisor and a board member with PAWS NY, an organization dedicated to sustaining the human-animal bond by providing support to disabled, disadvantaged, or immune-compromised individuals.
Working through PAWS NY, Tu recently helped two cats and their owner, a woman who suffered from a chronic psychiatric illness. During a recent emergency hospitalization, the cats were unfortunately left alone at home for an extended period of time. PAWS NY secured the services of a translator (as the woman only spoke Spanish), gained access to her apartment, paid for physical examinations and vaccines for the cats, and housed them in a foster home until the owner was well enough to be discharged. “We sent the cats back to Mom last weekend and paired her with a home-visit volunteer to help care for her cats and to make sure that if she falls ill again, the cats will be cared for while she is gone.”
In the few minutes when Tu isn’t thinking all things veterinary, she does pursue other passions. Sharing that she frequently makes chocolate chip cookies with bacon in them, she confessed that she loves food and cooking (especially with bacon), so exploring the restaurants in New York City is a given. Having grown up in both Taiwan and the US, she also loves to travel and has recent passport stamps from Turkey, Japan, Morocco, and lots of places in between.
And while the future will probably hold more travel and bacon, it will surely hold more training. Tu is contemplating one day completing a non-conforming residency in animal behavior, which would require her to develop her own program, find a mentor, and sit for the boards.
“As a general practitioner, I often address my patients’ behavioral challenges and would really like to understand veterinary behavior at the level of a specialist,” said Tu. “It’s my primary area of interest, but I am also very passionate about surgery and all aspects of primary care. I love the diversity of being a general practitioner, so if I take this path, I will need to incorporate my behavior specialty into what I am already doing as a GP.”