Externship/Mentorship Questions

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2+ Year Member
Aug 10, 2020
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I will be starting my second year in the fall. Until now my veterinary experience has come through jobs and not so much shadowing or mentorships. I was wondering what questions or things I should ask to do during my summer externship to get the most out of it. One is a mixed animal and the other is equine focused. Should I do some research beforehand on what is common in the area for that practice? What other things should I do to prepare for my externship? Thanks!!!

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Be prepared to do physical exams. Try to be familiar with the lung fields, heart, where to do temp, for equine the 4 quadrants of the gut, and where to look for the digital pulses (you normally will not feel them well at first but that's ok).

I'd recommend starting with asking to try to do IM and IV injections for the species you'll be working with. Really focus on how the vet thinks. Understand the diagnostic process. I don't typically do a ton of research for each placement but ask the day of what's on the schedule for the next day. That way I can review my notes for lamenesses or dentals so it's fresh for the next day.

Every practice and every vet is different. Some may allow you to do more than others. In a small animal clinic one vet let me do a neuter and the other wouldn't even let me place a catheter. Just be realistic with your skill set and be honest with the vets on what you can and can't do or when you're unsure of how to do something.
I think it's important to just be very eager and engaged! Sitting quietly in the corner won't get you very far. Just ask to try things. If they say, "we need to get an IV cath in this" or "draw blood from this cow" just ask, "Can I try?" The worst thing they'll say is, "maybe the next one"
On my externships in school I was able to do a supervised aural hematoma repair, help ligate vessels in a splenectomy, and even unblocked a cat with supervision.