The start of fourth year is starting to become ominously close. As a first-year, it felt like this day would never happen. But now that it gets closer and closer, I feel less ready to step out of the classroom and start acting like a real doctor. At the time of this writing, I have less than 250 days until the first day of clinics. What might be even more frightening is that I have less than 600 days until graduation when I won’t have any more training wheels. I’m trying to stay positive. After all, it’s not like I’m the first or only person this has ever happened to. This is an important step that every vet must go through to get to the profession they want to have. I’m trying to get more excited and less scared about fourth year by setting up some fun externships. Here’s how I’m doing that.
First, I want to expand my horizons. The area I plan to practice in has only 1-2 vets within a couple of hours drive that will see exotic and pocket pet species. So, I’m hoping to find at least one clinic I can extern at that sees many of these patients so I can learn. If I can become confident helping popular pets like budgies, parrots, bearded dragons, and small mammals, then I can see these patients in my area that otherwise might not have a vet to go to. I asked the vet I work for to help me find a good clinic to learn this, and she networked with her reps to point me towards a clinic that fits my needs.
Second, I want to meet the clients to whom I’ll be providing veterinary care. I’m lucky enough to have already lined up a job offer following graduation, and I was able to work there this summer. It’s really important for me to get back there on breaks when I get the chance so that I am very comfortable with the workflow and so that I can form relationships with the clients. For small, Midwestern communities, it’s important to have a good relationship with your community, so the more clients I can have positive interactions with, the better.
Last, I’m trying to line up at least one externship to somewhere crazy. This is my last big chance to really use my education to go do something that I won’t get the opportunity to again. Right now, I’m hoping to do an externship at a working sled dog kennel in Alaska. Did I mention it will take place in January?! This is definitely the thing I am MOST excited about fourth year, and I really hope the opportunity works out. Working with actual sled dogs, watching a race (like the Iditarod), and seeing the Northern Lights are all Bucket List items for me.
Fourth year is going to be a transition period, and I will admit I am quite apprehensive about it, but there are also going to be a lot of amazing things I will get to. I am really excited to start practicing my clinical skills and thinking more like a doctor. Lining up the fun and really educational externships is just one part of the process.