Hi, my name is Shannon Finn and I’m an Ivory Owl heading out to my externship for the months of May and June. I’m so excited to be a part of the Externship Blog Project… I have followed it faithfully since it started in 2014, which was the summer I found out I had been admitted to OVC. I thought it was a great way to provide some insight into the things I could look forward to in my final year, as well as showcase the great relationship OVC has with external practices in Ontario and abroad.
I have chosen the Food Animal “stream” for my fourth and final year at OVC. Picking a stream gives us a way to direct our clinical training towards an area of our interest, which allows us to customize our experiential learning to an extent. Students in the Food Animal stream (AKA Foodies) get to focus on cattle (both dairy and beef), swine, poultry, sheep and goats, and even fish if we want to! What drew me to this stream and food animal medicine is that it is focused more at a population or herd level, instead of just at the individual level. In addition to keeping a herd healthy, we must consider food safety and biosecurity, which are two things I am passionate about.
I grew up in Baden, Ontario, which is a small town about 45 minutes west of Guelph, basically at the intersection of Waterloo, Perth and Oxford counties. It’s a beautiful and agriculturally rich area of Southern Ontario, and an area where I would ideally like to practice when I graduate. For this reason, I decided to stay local for my externship, although I’m kind of jealous of my classmates who are traveling abroad this summer! Coming into vet school, I didn’t have as much large animal veterinary experience as some of my Foodie classmates, and so I figured it would be a smart move to spend 8 weeks getting to better know the area, the producers, and the industry where I would like to work upon graduation.
My grandparents and cousins live in Wellesley, which is about 10 minutes from Baden, and so Wellesley Veterinary Clinic was high on my list of choices when I was seeking out my externship. I contacted them last summer, and was invited for a ride-along to see how the practice worked and if I would be a good fit there. This is a common practice for OVC students when looking for externships, and one that I’d highly recommend! I thoroughly enjoyed my day spent with them – it was a Saturday so there weren’t too many appointments to see, but the teaching was very hands-on for the calls that we did go to. In the down-time they taught me a bit about herd records and trouble shooting production issues using herd data. This gave me a good indication that I would get to learn a lot, and they encourage their externship students to spend a good portion of time on the road doing farm calls, which was exactly what I wanted. After having such a great time there, it was an easy decision, and I’ve been looking forward to going back to Wellesley since I decided it was where I was going to go!
I hope you follow along with me this summer! I’m hoping to shed some light on the kinds of things we do on our externship, what it’s like to work in rural Ontario, and how veterinarians work closely with the agricultural industry to keep our animals and our food supply healthy. You can also follow me on Twitter at @SFinnDVMStudent!
Read more from Shannon about why she wants to be a farm animal veterinarian on the Farm & Food Care Real Dirt on Farming blog.