Dr. Selina Passante-Watt joined the practice at Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) in the fall of 2013. Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Dr. Passante-Watt graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, SK, in June 2012. After graduation, she moved west to Calgary, Alberta, and completed an internship in equine medicine and surgery at Moore Equine Veterinary Centre. She and her husband Walker Watt, who is also an equine veterinarian, then moved to South Florida in July 2013 in order to pursue their equine veterinary careers.
Dr. Passante-Watt started riding when she was ten years old and was a typical horse crazy child. She took western riding lessons for a few years before finding a love of polo. When she was in high school, she got a job grooming and exercising polo horses in Winnipeg, which continued for six summers.
After high school, Dr. Passante-Watt was unsure what career path she wanted to take, so she decided to go backpacking in Australia. She traveled and found small jobs along the way. One day, while working on a farm picking mangos, a small dog was found wounded from a fight with another dog. Dr. Passante-Watt took the dog, fixed his wounds, and nursed him back to health. That is when she decided to apply to veterinary school. A veterinary career was something that had always been in her mind, but while unsure of her career path after high school, that event solidified the decision.
While attending vet school in Saskatoon, Dr. Passante-Watt met her husband, Dr. Walker Watt, and the pair got married in October of 2013. During his fourth year of vet school, Dr. Watt attended a conference and met some veterinarians from Teigland, Franklin and Brokken, a racetrack practice at Gulfstream Park in Florida. He went to visit and did an externship there, later receiving a job offer. Dr. Watt and Dr. Passante-Watt then made the decision to move to Florida, where Dr. Watt took the racetrack job, and Dr. Passante-Watt soon found a position at Palm Beach Equine Clinic.
“Palm Beach Equine is a great practice,” Dr. Passante-Watt stated. “I have been working with Dr. Jorge Gomez, who works mainly on sport horses and more specifically on show jumpers, so it has been great getting involved in that world and receiving mentorship from Dr. Gomez. There is a lot of sport horse medicine that we do not see back home in Canada. It is a different world in Wellington; everything is a step ahead.”
The first year Dr. Passante-Watt and her husband moved to Florida, they stayed and worked for the full year. They then decided to split their time between the U.S. and Canada, just traveling to Florida for the winter season. They opened their own mobile practice in Western Canada, which Dr. Watt now runs year-round while his wife soaks up everything she can learn in Wellington throughout the winter.
“There is a lack of equine veterinarians in Southern Alberta where we live,” Dr. Passante-Watt explained. “There are a lot of mixed animal practitioners, but not a lot of specific equine practitioners, let alone in performance horses. That is why we decided to open a practice and just work on horses, and it has been going really well so far.”
A veterinarian at just 29 years of age, Dr. Passante-Watt enjoys the team oriented aspect and vast resources that working at PBEC offers.
“There are a lot of specialists and very intelligent people at that practice, so the continual learning is incredibly valuable, especially as a young vet,” she acknowledged. “I learn every day. It is an amazing experience to be able to walk down the hall and knock on the door of one of the best board-certified equine radiologists and say, ‘Hey Dr. Puchalski, can you help me with this?’ Or walk one door down to talk to a board-certified surgeon or any of the other specialists. You do not realize how beneficial that is until you leave and you are in the middle of Western Canada and you wish that you had that.”
“It is also a great way to build connections because nowadays, if you have made those connections, you can easily email people, send images, and pick up the phone and call someone with questions,” Dr. Passante-Watt stated. “I find everyone at Palm Beach Equine to be very helpful. As a vet early in my career, I think it is a great thing to work in a practice like that because it definitely pushes you to learn and be your best because you are working with the best.”
Having the state-of-the-art facility and equipment at PBEC at her disposal throughout the winter is also a huge advantage.
“It is an amazing difference,” Dr. Passante-Watt noted. “I see both sides of it, because I am in Canada in the summer in my own small mobile practice with no bells and whistles, and then I come down to Palm Beach Equine and you have everything you could want at your fingertips. Every sort of pharmaceutical need, every tool, every cutting edge technology, they just have it all right here. For the hospital, there are technicians and interns to monitor your cases overnight, and the 24-hour Intensive Care Unit is state-of-the-art. It is definitely set up to be successful, and with 28 veterinarians, everyone is great about helping one another.”
Dr. Passante-Watt has many different veterinary interests, including diagnostic imaging, ophthalmology, lameness, dentistry and internal medicine. She really enjoys general practice, specializing in a little bit of everything. She is also certified in acupuncture.
As far as future goals, Dr. Passante-Watt plans to take it year-by-year, continuing to come to Palm Beach Equine Clinic in the winters, continuing to learn, and being the best veterinarian that she can be.
When she is not working, Dr. Passante spends time with her husband and their two dogs. She also enjoys outdoor activities such as running, snowboarding, scuba diving, and playing polo. She purchased a few polo ponies up in Canada this fall and also bought a few new ponies in Wellington this winter, which she plans to take home to Canada so that she has a full string to play over the summer. She also enjoys running half marathons.