Externship (Part 1)
Updated: Mar 15
Externship Part 1: Small Animal General Practice
During clinics we get 6 weeks to go off campus for our externships. These can be split into 2 different experiences or can be 1. We have the option to utilize this time to work with any kind of veterinarian we see fit. I had initially planned to do my externship in the spring of my clinical year because I wanted to disperse the time that I had off campus throughout the year. If you read my past posts about my off-campus blocks in Malawi and South Africa, I was off campus for 9 weeks (2 rotations + vacation block). I knew I was accepted for these off-campus rotations for the summer/fall which is why I had initially planned my externship to be in the spring. Long story short, I had a change of heart and decided to move my externship earlier in the year so that I could experience different practices before beginning to job search. This post will talk about the first 3 weeks of my externship which were spent working at multiple small animal general practices in the suburbs of Chicago. The practices I externed with were through Companion Animal Hospital and Animal Care Clinic. I found this opportunity after meeting Dr. Markwalder at a career fair at my vet school’s career fair during third year.
Deciding Where to Extern
For me, the most important aspects I wanted in an externship were strong, consistent mentorship and a hands-on environment. I had previously listened to a talk by Dr. Markwalder and Dr. Conroy when they visited Purdue for a VBMA meeting. Their presentation was centered around mentorship and what it should look like out in practice. I loved hearing their thoughts and experiences on how your first year as a new grad doesn’t have to be horrendous. Up until that point, I hadn’t heard of many other clinics that truly valued mentoring and had solid proof to show for it. An added bonus to their externships is that they are paid AND there is onsite housing. Having the ability to go off campus and out of state for externships is exciting and it’s even better when you know you won’t have to break the bank to do it!
What I got out of the externship
This externship was awesome because prior to working at the different practices, I was asked what my goals and interests were. From there, I was placed with 3 different clinics that were all in different areas and offered unique services. So, if you’re interested in surgery you can be placed at a clinic that focuses more heavily on that. Or if you want to experience some holistic medicine techniques, they have doctors for that too! I really enjoyed my time because I got to learn from 3 different teams which all had unique and valuable strengths. I was able to assist and do a surgery, see many different medical cases, work alongside new grads and veterinarians that have been out in the game for years, and overall got to see that general practice is exciting and fun. I guess my biggest fears going into this externship was worrying that I’d end up hating general practice. People often say it’s boring and routine, but I can say that wasn’t true during my time externing with all 3 practices. You’ll hear comments during vet school that GP’s aren’t “real doctors”, because we aren’t specialized but that’s not true. This externship allowed me to see just how much general practitioners do and how much of an impact they make on the community. Ontop of it, this externship allowed me to also see that veterinarians CAN have a strong work/life balance. This externship was one that I recommend to anyone who is interested in general practice and seeing what strong mentorship and teamwork looks like outside of vet school.
Thank you do all the amazing doctors and staff at Companion Animal Hospital and Animal Care Clinic. You guys made my externship fantastic and I cannot wait to get out into the world of general practice!
Feel free to drop any questions or comments below!