Ready, set, externship!

Externship Project

Join three Ontario Veterinary College student veterinarians for the OVC Externship Blog Project as they share their experiences from the fall of 2020 completing externships in Ontario veterinary practices.

The day that I have been anticipating for more than a year has finally arrived. I have my white coat packed, along with my notebooks, my stethoscope, my penlight, and most definitely all my excitement and nerves! Today I start my externship!

What exactly is an “externship”, you may be wondering? Well, let me give you a quick summary of how we get to this point in vet school first. Work endlessly in undergrad to obtain good grades and experience —> apply to vet school —> get accepted to vet school —> Phase 1: Normal Physiology —> Phase 2: Abnormal (bacteriology, parasitology, virology etc) —> Phase 3: Clinical conditions of Dogs/cats, Ruminants, Equine, Avian/Exotics —> Phase 4: CLINICAL ROTATIONS!

Photo of a stethoscope, notebook and lab coat

These clinical rotations are within a stream that we choose, which for me is small animal medicine. There are a handful of one to two week rotations at the Ontario Veterinary College, a few external rotations at animal clinics of your choosing, and our four-week externship at one clinic...making up a total of 34 weeks. With the current pandemic, there were times when it felt like we would never make it to our externship, and although plans had to be modified a little, I am finally here! 

Because my externship is so early on in Phase 4, I feel like it will really set the stage for the rest of my rotations. Being at one clinic for these four weeks allows us to see how a practice is run, and slowly build our confidence in our clinical and technical skills.

It’s only day one and I have been thrown into the whirlwind of general practice and it’s all very exciting and very nerve wracking! Putting the knowledge that we have learned in the past three years to use, in a real setting, is what we have been anticipating for so long.

During the past three years, the thought of this day got me through those eight hours of back-to-back lectures, followed by late nights and weekends spent studying. As vet students, it seems we are always riddled with self doubt, but even on my first day, I’m finding comfort in the fact that maybe my brain really does know more than what I give myself credit for!

It’s a little scary knowing I have so much more to learn still, but it is humbling and its those nerves that push me to ask questions, get involved, and challenge myself so that I can grow as much as I can during my four weeks here at this externship! It helps a lot that a great team has taken me under their wing to help me learn.

There is a perfect quote that comes to mind when I think about all the learning opportunities I have ahead of me ... “The more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. The more I realize I don’t know, the more I want to learn.” (Albert Einstein) I can’t wait to get my learning on!