From the classroom to the clinic

Externship Project

Diagnostics, clinical skills, problem solving, and working with clients are all critical pieces in a student veterinarian’s education. Hands-on opportunities are invaluable.

Student veterinarians heading into their final year of study at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College move from lectures and labs into a year of intensive clinical and diagnostic training, beginning with an eight-week externship in a rural veterinary practice. It is a defining experience as they move from the classroom to the clinic.

Ontario Veterinary College student veterinarians“These externships provide invaluable experiential opportunities,” says OVC Dean Jeff Wichtel. "They provide our student veterinarians with the opportunity to be part of a team providing animal care to the public, to apply the skills they’ve learned and to practice their diagnostic and problem-solving abilities in a real-world setting.”

Supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), students must complete the eight-week Externship Course between third and fourth year in a rural veterinary practice that works with food animals and/or horses, as well as companion animals.

The Externship Course started in the mid-1980s to provide practical, real-life experience to DVM students entering their final year. Many of the practices have been hosting students for more than 20 years – their support is critical. Not only do practitioners provide their expertise and mentorship, they evaluate the students’ progress in achieving core competencies, ranging from clinical abilities to communication skills, which will be essential during their first months after graduation.

“We are extremely grateful to the veterinary practitioners who provide mentorship and expertise during these externships and for their commitment to educating our next generation of veterinarians,” adds Wichtel.

This summer we will be following five student veterinarians as they share their experiences through the OVC Externship Blog Project.

The students are among the 119 third-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students from OVC getting real-world practical experience this summer through the Externship Course.

Their posts provide an opportunity for future students, DVM students, OVC faculty, staff and alumni, government funding agencies and the community to discover what student veterinarians are learning, as well as providing an opportunity for student veterinarians to develop communication and social media skills for use in their future veterinary careers.

Learn more about these student veterinarians and follow their journey this summer at