One of the downfalls of going to Southeast Asia this summer was that many of my other responsibilities got swept to the wayside. There’s only so much you can do when you’re thousands of miles away from home.
Of the many responsibilities, and perhaps the most important, that got neglected was choosing the location for my externship. During the summer of 2018, we are required to complete an eight-week long externship at a mixed animal practice. I had put some thought in where I wanted to go, but between finals and planning my travels, it was forgotten.
It’s funny how sometimes the most important decisions can be put aside until the very last minute. Upon returning home, I took a few weeks of downtime to reset and overcome the jetlag. It wasn’t until my externship deadline was around the corner that I actually took action. Within two days I had sent out emails to at least a dozen different clinics.
My criteria for choosing a placement was that a majority of their large animal patients were horses and that I would be able to assist with surgery. Having an externship outside of Ontario would also be desirable because I really enjoy traveling. I applied to clinics in Arizona, British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, and Australia. I also applied to several in Ontario, just to be safe.
The downside of waiting so late to apply is that most externships are already taken. Almost every placement in Ontario had already been snatched up by my classmates. The well-known ones in Western Canada had also already been taken. I started to panic after receiving multiple responses that turned me away. I kicked myself for putting such an important aspect of my veterinary career on the backburner. I had almost accepted that I would be doing my externship at my last resort clinic.
Luckily for me, I received some good news from a clinic in Washington. I was ecstatic to learn that they would happily take me on, but even more so when I learned that they specialize in equine and small ruminant medicine. I couldn’t believe that a clinic in my favorite state that primarily works with my favorite animals would want to take me on. It was a dream come true. My summer will be spent working in a mobile practice, traveling to farms all over the Olympic Peninsula, saving the animals I love the most.
Upon reflecting on this experience, I realize that I got extremely lucky. I would never recommend anyone wait this long to start looking for externships. Obviously, my circumstances were different than most but I could’ve started applying well in advance. If you’re a veterinary student and currently considering placements for your clinical year, I recommend applying months in advance.