I just discovered the most amazing tool and had to pass it on! All you students and veterinarians looking to broaden your training with externships or courses are going to love me for sharing this. If this tool had been available while I was an undergrad and in veterinary school it would have made my job much easier.
As it was, I became very good friends with Google instead and depended a lot more on word-of-mouth recommendations because a one-stop shop database like this did not exist.
So what am I raving on about? If you know what’s good for you, the AVMA’s Student Externship Locator is going to become a good friend of yours over the years ahead. Go ahead and bookmark it now.
Before all you vets stop reading, let me just put a little bug in your ear. Who says you can’t spend 2-6 weeks participating in an veterinary externship or training course? Yes, they may be designed mostly for vet students. And yes, I understand it’s hard to get that much time off.
But do you really think any of these organizations would turn down a practicing veterinarian interested in exploring the possibility of a career shift? And would many of your bosses honestly say “absolutely not” if you asked for four weeks of leave without pay to participate in something like this? More on all that later.
When you go to the front page, you’ll see that you can choose from four options:
- State: Choose externships based on their location in the U.S. using a handy visual map
- Special Interest: Select training opportunities based on the type of veterinary medicine they fall within
- School: Choose externships hosted by different veterinary schools around the U.S. and internationally
- Organization: Select your training using an alphabetized list of all the sponsoring organizations
I find the Special Interest page to be most useful, because it enables me to look at all the externships available in Wildlife, Zoologic, Exotic, Government and Public Health, or International, for example. Speaking of international, the vast majority of these opportunities are open to people from all over the world, not just U.S. citizens.
You’ve probably noticed that I have mentioned not just externships but also training courses. Most students only tend to think of the practical externship where you spend a few weeks working alongside a veterinarian or team of vets in some type of clinical practice. Why would you want to sign up for another course on top of all the ones you already have in vet school, right?
Well, I won’t say a lot about it here, but these courses can be a great way to broaden your horizon and get both classroom and hands-on training on topics that you won’t hear much about in vet school. For example, I participated in a MARVET workshop and not only learned a ton about marine animal veterinary medicine but also got to meet and interact with some top vets in that field.
Unfortunately, the Externship Locator Tool only provides the name, location, and link to the site of the hosting organization. It would be great if there was a little summary of details right there, and even better if there were a way for vet students to submit reviews of the externships to help others know what they would be doing at each one.
I’m actually hoping that this site could turn into something like that. Wouldn’t it be useful to have a place to go for honest reviews of veterinary externships, preceptorships, and veterinary training courses? I know that I felt like I was going in blind a lot of the time, and honestly these experiences can be hit or miss.
Sure, a good attitude can do wonders for any situation, but wouldn’t you like to hear from others who have been through these externships and courses? Maybe you’re really hoping to get some hands-on surgical experience, but you’re not sure if that will be possible with this particular university’s externship program? Or you really just want to be able to interact closely with elephants but don’t know which zoo or sanctuary situation will make that possible?
If you are interested in submitting a brief review of any externships or courses you have participated in, just get in touch via my contact page (link). I will put it up front and center, along with a few photos if you have them. I’ll also link your review to my map page (link) to make it easy for others to find their own opportunities.
So what do you think? Will this tool make your own educational and career progression a little easier? I would love to hear from you.