Choosing your externship 101:

Externship Project

After completing third year, students at OVC must complete a two-month placement at a clinic with both large and small animal patients.  For most students, it is our first experience at taking what we have learned in the past three years, and applying it in “the real world”.  It is also the first time that we get to take charge of our own learning.

Finding the right externship is no easy task!  There are tons of factors to consider; are you interested primarily in large or small animal medicine, are you interested in specialty medicine, are you willing to relocate for the summer? What might be the perfect clinic for one student may not be the right choice for another.

This summer I will be completing my externship at the Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon.  5500km away from home!


Here are some of the questions I asked when looking for my externship.

1. Where is it?

I decided I wanted to travel outside of Ontario to expose myself to some new challenges.  I hope to pursue an internship following graduation, and wanted to prepare for the possibility of moving away and working in a new place.  I have never travelled to the west coast of Canada and decided this would be the perfect opportunity! (Also, see the photos - it is BEAUTIFUL here)

2.  How big is the clinic?

Alpine has 7 veterinarians and a huge support staff.  This was really important to me! It meant I’d get to learn tips and tricks from so many different professionals and decide which ones worked best for me.

3. What services are offered?

Alpine offers 24-hour emergency services for both large and small animals.  This was another important feature for me.  I wanted the opportunity to be on call, learn in fast paced situations, and gain experience with emergency medicine. 

4. How involved are the students?

I was fortunate enough to speak with upper year students who had previously completed their externships at Alpine (I would highly recommend talking to a clinic’s previous students before choosing your clinic).  I heard such wonderful stories about the confidence these students had developed while at Alpine and it sounded like a great fit for me. 

I’ve completed one week at Alpine and have loved every minute!  I’m looking forward to an amazing two months in Whitehorse!