Alicia Karas, DVM, MS, DACVAASection Co-leader, Animals in Research
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
A veterinary anesthesiologist, pain specialist, and animal welfare scientist, Dr. Alicia Karas has dedicated her career to the alleviation of pain and stress in animals. She is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ACVAA).
Dr. Karas graduated from Tufts Veterinary School in 1989 and for several years worked in small animal and exotic practice in North Carolina and Texas prior to returning to Tufts to do a residency in anesthesiology. She developed an interest in pain medicine at a time when the field was still developing, and stayed at Tufts for a number of reasons: a love of New England, the Cummings School's commitment to animal and human welfare, and her husband's post at Tufts Medical School.
Dr. Karas started an elective on pain management in 1994 for DVM students and residents, and, along with her anesthesia section colleagues, brought many of the lectures into the school's core curriculum. She uses video often in her lectures to illustrate various indicators of pain in many species.
At the Cummings School, Dr. Karas teaches anesthesia and pain medicine for both companion and laboratory animal populations. She is always examining ways to assess pain, reduce stress and improve quality-of-life, either in the clinic or through her research. This includes reducing the pain of examinations by using skillful sedation, meeting postoperative needs for pain control and treating chronic pain. "What I love about teaching is the ability to share this vision of making hospital visits and everyday life as comfortable and fulfilled as possible," she says. "There are so many ways to do this—our clinicians and technicians work to diagnose and cure illness; along with that goes the experience of being cared for."
She has partnered with Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil and other veterinarians, technicians and hospital staff to forge new ways to reduce pain and stress throughout their hospital sojourn - known as the Patient Centered Care Initiative, or PCCI.
Dr. Karas also recognized that many of her elderly patients suffer from a form of cognitive dysfunction, similar to that seen in humans. She teaches her clients to use nutritional and other strategies to help to help dogs and cats deal with their senior challenges.
As the faculty mentor for our student run Pet Loss Hotline, she works to help our graduates understand the grieveing process and complicated grief, to learn the value of empathetic listening and self-care for the practitioner.