“I’m a medication safety officer.”
That’s how Heather Tally sees herself and her role as the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s assistant pharmacy manager.
“Not only do we care about the animals, but we also care deeply about the humans who work here,” she said. “We want to keep everyone safe.”
Her niche is veterinary pharmacology, but Tally said her specialty is regulatory compliance. She takes pride in making sure controlled substances are handled correctly and according to regulations.
“I like looking information up, I like reading about it, and I like connecting the dots from all the different
agencies,” she said.
That information becomes even more important when animals are the patients, Tally said. Humans have some genetic and size differences that can affect dosing. But with animals, there’s a huge variety in size and many different species, all requiring unique medications and doses.
Tally said that working with animals provides many learning opportunities. Researchers at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital are doing work in oncology and pain management. In fact, Tally is participating in several research studies and been part of approximately 50 since she started at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. One study looked at environmental contamination within the work environment of veterinary clinics handling hazardous drugs. Another explored pain management options for male cats.
“My favorite part of working here is learning something and being able to let others know and share that information,” said Tally, who is the president of the Society of Veterinary Hospital Pharmacists. “Being at the university allows me to learn these things and educate others.”
Her love of animals goes back to childhood. She participated in 4-H and won a horse in an essay-writing contest. The leopard Appaloosa was donated by the late Doc Hodgson, pharmacist at Hodgson’s Pharmacy. Tally saw Hodgson’s efforts to give back to Athens through pharmaceutical care and knew she wanted to do the same.
Later, at her career day in 10th grade, she had an opportunity to shadow a veterinarian and visit a pharmacist, psychologist and other various jobs. She heard about veterinary pharmacy in college, and that’s when she knew what career path to take.
“This is why it’s very, very important for career days to happen in school,” she said. “Exposing kids, even tiny ones, to different careers really can make a big difference.”
Her last rotation in her Doctor of Pharmacy program was at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. And she’s been there since then.
“The opportunities at the university are only limited by your imagination,” she said. “If you can think of it, the university has a way of helping you achieve it.”
For example, she teaches veterinary pharmacology to veterinary students, but she and her husband, Spencer, a practicing veterinarian, also developed a course in veterinary pharmacology for College of Pharmacy students.
Tally also founded UGA’s Equestrian Booster Club and served as its first president, helping turn it into a varsity sport. She still rides in her spare time and enjoys playing golf. She also is involved in charity work and her church.
“Riding on a good trail in the woods does your soul wonders,” she said.