How did your Externship impact your veterinary career?

Externship Project

Dr. Laura Constantinescu, OVC 2017
(2016 Externship Blog Project)

I originally completed my eight-week externship in Eastern Ontario on the Ontario, Quebec border at Vankleek Hill Veterinary Services (large animal) and Hawkesbury Animal Hospital (small animal). My time was evenly split between the two hospitals and I was able to see all sorts of species while I was there. The large animal was mostly dairy focused and the small animal was lots of cats and dogs. While I now work almost exclusively with horses and their owners/trainers, I still value my externship for giving me a good look at other aspects of veterinary medicine. The time spent with the veterinarians discussing cases, life and client communications was invaluable.

I am currently finishing an internship at The Equine Clinic at OakenCroft, an eight-doctor ambulatory equine practice in upstate New York, right near the Massachusetts border. We have a ship in facility for in-hospital medical and breeding cases, but most of my time is spent on the road with the other doctors or with assistants, doing farm calls. With backup I started seeing my own emergencies at the beginning of October, about three months after I started. My equine emergencies have ranged from lacerations to lameness, to horses stuck in hay feeders! The emergencies I saw on my externship included bovines with displaced abomasums to small animals with broken bones. An emergency is an emergency and being able to quickly triage a situation and come up with a treatment plan is one every veterinarian needs. You never know where life is going to take you, so learning something about every species is so valuable; last week I got roped into taking blood from a staff member’s dog!

One of my favourite parts of my job now is interacting with all of the extern students that come to visit. We average 15 to 20 students each year, from various phases of veterinary school, from a variety of veterinary schools. Externs that are eager to learn and participate tend to get more out of the experience and I see myself a year ago reflected in them. As a student looking for an eight-week externship opportunity it can be difficult to find a truly mixed practice, especially if you are constrained by location. Look for a practice that offers hands-on opportunities with all species if possible. Looking early and going to practices to visit is important so that you know that your eight weeks will be well spent. 

At the end of my externship I will be starting as an Associate Veterinarian at an equine practice in Northern Massachusetts, McGee Equine. There I will be doing 90 per cent equine and 10 per cent small ruminant. The small ruminant work highlights how you never know where you are going to end up, so take each learning opportunity that comes your way. The eight-week externship is yours to make of it what you will, and I encourage each student to make it worthwhile.