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Category: Team

Meet World Renowned Radiologist Dr. Sarah Puchalski

Sarah-Puchalski-Palm-Beach-Equine-Clinic

Dr. Sarah Puchalski is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology whose specialty includes the interpretation of bone scans, MRI, ultrasound, radiographs and other diagnostic imaging techniques. With her addition to the staff, Palm Beach Equine Clinic is one of the few equine hospitals in the country to employ a full-time radiologist on-site. In addition to working with horses locally and assisting veterinarians around the world, Dr. Puchalski also competes in the Medium and High Amateur Owner Jumper circuits.

It is important for clients to get know our doctors so we asked Dr. Puchalski to share a little about herself!

How do you like being in Wellington and having the opportunity to compete at the Winter Equestrian Festival?

I think it is a really unbelievable opportunity to ride in the most competitive rings in the country regardless of the level at which you are competing.

How do you like working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic?

Palm Beach Equine Clinic is great place to work. It is very vibrant and busy. I like the energy that comes out of the place and the imaging equipment is world-class.

Sarah Puchalski and Lucia de Luxe by Deb Dawson Photography

Why do you feel it is important to have a Board Certified Radiologist on site?

 My full time job is image reviews which takes a high level of specialization. This provides support for all veterinarians ranging from field veterinarians to surgeons. It is very rare for an equine hospital to have a full-time radiologist so having one on board offers a step up in the quality of service. When a horse comes in for an MRI or bone scan everything can be reviewed before the horse leaves the clinic so if any other care is needed it can be handled in one visit.

What ways do veterinarians use radiologists?

There are a couple ways. One is that I read complicated images such as bone scans and MRIs. Most veterinarians do not have the training to read these images. The second way is to provide a second opinion on routine diagnostic techniques such as radiographs and ultrasounds. Clients and referral veterinarians will also use my opinion for pre-purchase examinations.

Tell us about your studies and how you’ve developed an international reputation?

Dr. Sarah Puchalski Palm Beach Equine Clinic Radiology

I did two internships in field service and sports medicine at New Bolton Center Hospital at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinarian Medicine. Then, I spent four years at the University of California, Davis in imaging. For eight years I stayed there as faculty for doing research instruction and clinical service. I have published more than 50 scientific articles and performed over 100 presentations around the world on lameness diagnosis and Diagnostic Imaging in Sport Horses.

What would you like veterinarians and owners to know about you?

My philosophy is to support all veterinarians, whether it be a veterinarian from Palm Beach Equine Clinic or a referral. I read cases from all over the world on a daily basis. Many owners ask their veterinarian to consult with me for a second opinion. I view my role more as a support role for all veterinarians to provide the best care for horses.

Introducing Dr. Ryan Lukens

Dr. Ryan Lukens joined the Palm Beach Equine Clinic team in June of 2012. He has been a great asset and some of you may not have had the opportunity to meet him.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic currently has 24 veterinarians providing exceptional veterinary care and client services. As we grow, thanks to our clients, we feel it is important that everyone gets to know our veterinarians. Not only professionally, but also personally. Each of our doctors brings exceptional veterinary skills and great personal strengths to our Palm Beach Equine Clinic Family. It is the combination of these strengths that makes our Team a success.

We sat down to interview Dr. Lukens and asked him to tell his story.

Q: You went to Ohio State and played football, do you feel that your football career helped you with your future in veterinary medicine?

A: Yes, I played football for 5 years at Ohio State, from 2004 to 2008.  I was a fullback and a linebacker.  My senior season was my freshman year in veterinary school.  I remember studying for Cell Biology and Clinical Pathology during my plane rides back from games.  

My coaches were very accommodating. I would usually have to skip Sunday film day to study for Monday exams and then make up film review after my exams on Monday, which would usually have been a “day off” from football.  Needless to say I was busy during that first quarter of vet school.  Football taught me discipline and time management.  

My Coach, Jim Tressel, instilled values in his players by group discussion and study of leadership books.  These values affect my career today, I am always aware of how my actions and words affect everyone around me.  The lessons from Coach Tressel have helped me improve my communication skills with my clients and fellow colleagues.

Q: Your wife is a small animal veterinarian, how did this play a part in your education and career?

A: My grades were above average during my last football season but improved the following quarter.  This improvement in grades can be traced back to meeting my future wife in school a month after my football career ended.  The day we met we spent most of our time studying together and immersing ourselves in our class work.  

Studying became fun and we tackled the challenges together.  She was small animal oriented and I was able to teach her equine aspects while she helped me with small animal based courses.  From our separate experiences working with different animals our entire pre-vet school lives, we greatly improved each other’s understanding of former less-familiar species.  

When we entered clinical rotations our 3rd year, I would always find a way to get out to the barn rather than stay in the small animal clinic.  It was fun being able to teach my wife about horses, she had almost no experience with horses when we met.

Q: How do you feel about being a part of the Palm Beach Equine Clinic team of doctors? What kind of experiences have you had since joining PBEC?

A: I am more than happy to be a part of this prestigious clinic and to live in the center of horse country in South Florida.  I do not miss lameness exams in the snow! I started working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic for over 6 weeks while I was finishing school. This opportunity led to a great start in my career.  I was able to familiarize myself with the operation of this efficient, tertiary medical facility.  

My interests in school and to this day are sports medicine and I always envisioned performing competent lameness exams.  Over the past year and a half, my lameness exam numbers have increased exponentially. This past winter season I was successful in keeping several horses that had lameness issues early on sound throughout the entire season. I enjoy doing pre-purchase examinations. I am fortunate that this area offers a great amount of sale horses. Pre-purchase exams are also an excellent way to develop relationships with new riders and trainers.  

Moving from Ohio, I was quickly introduced to “summer sores”. Habronemiasis (summer sores) are not seen clinically in the north. So becoming more educated on them and providing successful treatment has been an educational experience for me.

A fortunate part about being a team member is the number of doctors and specialized fields that Palm Beach Equine Clinic offers. This is what makes the veterinary care here so proficient.  It benefits the patient and client as we are able to share ideas and consolidate treatment options amongst our large team.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

A: I am currently working on becoming ISELP (International Society of Equine Locomotor Pathology) certified.  This course and certification will continue to expand my knowledge and treatments of lameness.  I look forward to meeting new clients and treating new horses.  In the future, I want to join the ranks of the lameness experts known throughout the country.  Wellington is one the greatest places in the world for the opportunity to treat the best horses in the world.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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