Veterinary Student Externships: Definition, Requirements & Institutions

Published on May 27, 2024 12:00 AM
Veterinary Student Externships: Definition, Requirements & Institutions

Becoming a veterinarian requires more than just classroom knowledge. It demands practical experience in diagnostic and surgical procedures. For this purpose, students can opt for veterinary student externship programs. 

This guide aims to delve deeper into these programs and explore a few institutions offering vet externships.

Let’s start! 

What Is a Veterinary Externship? 

A veterinary student externship is a short-term, hands-on learning program in which fresh graduates or students work under the supervision of licensed veterinarians. 

The program provides students with in-depth knowledge and practical experience in both diagnosing and treating animals. Externships are typically part of the vet curriculum and can last from a few weeks to months. 

What Are the Benefits of Veterinary Externship Experiences?

Vet student externships offer various advantages. A few benefits are as follows: 

Gaining Practical Skills

Externships allow students to learn valuable skills, such as taking vital signs, assisting with physical examinations, and understanding basic veterinary techniques. They also teach students how theoretical knowledge can be implemented in real-world settings.

Exploring Specialties

Veterinary student externships let students explore diverse areas like surgery, internal medicine, ophthalmology, and cardiology. This experience helps them identify specific interests and areas for future specialization.

Building Network

In addition, externships allow students to network with experienced veterinarians, technicians, and staff. These valuable interactions lead to mentorship opportunities or future job recommendations.

Boosting Profile 

The benefits of student externships go beyond gaining practical experience. The programs open doors to a successful vet career. Including an externship on your resume can demonstrate your dedication and genuine passion for veterinary medicine. 

How Many Types of Veterinary Externships Are There? 

The following are the main types of vet student externships: 

  1. Short-term Externships

These programs usually last for a few weeks. They focus on providing students with an introduction to a specific veterinary area. 

  1. Veterinary Student Summer Externships 

The second type often runs for two to three months during the summer break. These programs focus on more in-depth knowledge and experience. 

  1. Semester-long Externships

Lastly, the third type of vet student externship lasts for entire semesters. It focuses on offering extensive exposure and experience to a particular veterinary disease. 

Requirements for Veterinary Student Externships

Depending on the institutions, the specific requirements of externships may vary. However, general criteria include the following: 

  • Enrolling in an accredited veterinary medicine program is necessary. 
  • Most institutions require a minimum GPA to participate in externship programs.
  • Depending on the externship location, certain vaccinations and certifications (like CPR) might be mandatory.

How to Apply for a Veterinary Student Externship? 

Applying for the vet externship starts with a strong application. The application process usually involves submitting a resume, cover letter, and letters of recommendation from professors or practicing veterinarians. 

Students can also contact their veterinary school's career center for guidance on finding and applying for externship opportunities.

How to Find the Right Vet Student Externships? 

It’s important to consider your personal preferences and professional goals. You can start by exploring programs through your school’s career center. 

Additionally, online databases maintained by veterinary associations can be valuable. 

List of Veterinary Student Externship Schools in the USA 

To help you find the right school for veterinary student externships in the USA, we have curated a list of a few options below. 

Here are the schools: 

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine 

Cornell CVM offers a wide range of externship opportunities catering to various interests. 

Students can choose from over 25 unique rotations. These rotations span both large and small animal medicine, including:

  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Radiology
  • Emergency and Critical Care

To be eligible, students must be enrolled in a DVM program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). 

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 

This institution offers numerous vet externships, with one program specifically focusing on zoo medicine. Students can also avail themselves of broader externship opportunities in the fields of:

  • Internal medicine

  • Surgery

  • Ophthalmology

  • Dermatology

  • Oncology

  • Emergency and critical care

  • Radiology

University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine (UGA CVM)

The institution offers a Visiting Student Externship Program specifically designed for veterinary students enrolled in other accredited DVM programs. 

There are over 20 different three-week rotation options at UGA CVM, catering to a wide range of interests within veterinary medicine. 

The institution offers unique externship opportunities in the following specialties:

  • Avian histopathology
  • Avian medicine
  • Anatomic pathology

Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

This institution’s externships typically last 4-8 weeks, allowing in-depth immersion in a specific area. 

Students can choose rotations aligned with their interests, such as:

  • Internal medicine
  • Surgery
  • Emergency and critical care
  • Ophthalmology
  • Radiology

Students enrolled in accredited DVM programs and with good academic scores are eligible to apply for their externships. 

To Wrap Up!

Vet externships provide invaluable opportunities for students to hone practical skills under the guidance of licensed veterinarians. These programs are tailored to diverse fields within veterinary medicine, ensuring students can align their experiences with their specific interests and career goals. 

If you want to learn more about educational programs, explore Vet and Tech. We offer a wealth of educational resources to help you excel in your chosen field. 


  1. How do I find paid veterinary student externships? 

You can reach out to the externship program coordinators or admissions office at the veterinary schools you're interested in. They can provide the most up-to-date information on any paid externships or stipend opportunities they might offer.

  1. What is a veterinary technician externship program?

A veterinary technician externship program is a supervised clinical experience for veterinary technician students. It allows students to gain hands-on experience in a veterinary clinic or hospital setting. 

  1. Are veterinary externships paid?

Most veterinary externships are unpaid learning experiences. However, some programs or clinics may offer stipends to help offset the costs associated with them.