Vet Externships Benefit More Than Just the Student

By Cheryl Sacrates

Published in: Update - Issue 2 - 2013 »   

In order to gain experience in a variety of areas, students in their final year of veterinary school are required to rotate through specialty departments at the university. These seniors often rotate offcampus to specialty hospitals and highvolume clinics to acquire experiences the universities cannot provide. Leader Dogs for the Blind is proud to participate in this externship* program where students spend two to three weeks working in our veterinary office and learning about Leader Dog.

A Leader Dog veterinarian and Cornell student sit on the floor. The student, a young man, holds a yellow lab while the veterinarian administers a vaccine

Cornell student Nicholas Sherman
assists with vaccinations

Although many of the students come from Michigan State University, we have hosted students from as far away as Brazil, Canada, St. Kits and Grenada. Students stay in our residence where they are able to interact with our clients, giving them an understanding of what it is like to live with a visual impairment and learning how working with a Leader Dog enhances our clients' independence.

Because our veterinary office is so busy, students get to examine many dogs in a short amount of time. They also gain experience in breeding and reproductive processes, something most university settings and veterinary hospitals do not offer.


Lisa Youn stands in the veterinary clinic holding a newborn puppy

MSU student Lisa Youn

Leader Dog's veterinarians are continually challenged by having to explain procedures and answer questions, which keeps them on their toes. In return, they learn some new techniques and trends from the university students, which helps keep Leader Dog on the cutting edge.

There are also some unexpected benefits to the program. Recently, a student who participated in the externship program moved to the Rochester area to work as a veterinarian; her Leader Dog experience impacted her so greatly, she decided to volunteer in our veterinary clinic!

* Externships are generally much shorter in length than internships and provide opportunities for students to work at facilities external to their university.