Over the course of the past ten or so years, the number of students participating in veterinary internships after graduation has drastically increased. The increase is surprising because not all of these students are interested in pursuing a residency or specialty. Though the reason why isn’t exactly clear, I speculate it may be because students do not feel completely comfortable practicing as independent veterinarians upon graduation.
Internships offer an excellent way to continue your education while practicing in a real-life setting. You get to work with the best of the best specialists, whose intentions are to share their knowledge with you. You rotate through multiple departments and get to see all aspects of veterinary medicine. There are a few downsides, though. The hours are typically long and grueling, with most interns working over sixty hour weeks, as opposed to in practice, where most first-year veterinarians will work a regular full-time schedule with paid on-call shifts (if there are any).
Compensation is often through a stipend and is, on average, is anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000. This is compared to the average income of a new veterinarian at around $75,000. So, there is a significant short-term financial loss. Some interns will need to take out loans to cover living expenses, so that is also a financial hit.
Internships are essential for those who want to specialize. Most residency programs will not consider you if you have not completed an internship, so this path is the sensible choice for anyone wanting to pursue a specialization. Yet, still, so many graduating veterinarians are choosing an internship before going into private practice. This is a trend I would love to learn more about.
I still have many questions that I want to be answered before I can consider an internship for myself:
Does an internship make you more hirable?
Will you be paid more as opposed to someone who hasn’t completed an internship?
What is your quality of life like while working as an intern?
How do interns manage themselves financially?
What is the overall career benefit?
…And so many more questions that I hope to have answered before the match opens this year.