March 01, 2010


 Be an AVMA Headquarters extern

Applications being accepted till mid-March for second group of externs
Posted Feb. 18, 2010

The AVMA Headquarters Externship Stipend Program is entering its second year. Five veterinary students completed externships in 2009, the inaugural year.

Students who would like to explore opportunities in organized veterinary medicine are invited to apply by March 15 for the 2010-2011 externships.

Last year when Joshua Ames applied for a headquarters externship, he saw it as a steppingstone to future involvement with the AVMA. Throughout veterinary school, he has also tried to learn about everything veterinary medicine has to offer.

Ames served his externship last fall in the Membership and Field Services Division. A fourth-year student at St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine in Grenada, West Indies, he is now in his year of clinical rotations at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

"The externship was a very beneficial and eye-opening experience to an area of veterinary medicine that most people have little knowledge about," Ames said. "It was a great chance to meet a plethora of amazing people and learn about their roles and duties that help keep veterinary medicine alive and functioning."

The 2009 externs served one- to four-week externships between June and October. Applicants for the coming year are eligible to serve three- to four-week externships between May 1, 2010, and May 1, 2011.

Up to five students who are members of the Student AVMA will be selected for the externships. The AVMA will provide stipends of $750 for three-week externships and $1,000 for four weeks. The student can spend the externship in one division or spread the experience among divisions. Externs will work on many projects, at least one of them from concept through completion.

Externs are responsible for securing their own transportation and housing.

Dr. Derrick D. Hall, an assistant director of the Membership and Field Services Division and the AVMA adviser to SAVMA, administers the externship program. Theresa De Carli works with him as program coordinator. She commented on feedback from the 2009 externs. "As I read the evaluations of the students who participated, one common theme that I saw was that the experience gave them a different view of AVMA—by coming here, they were able to see all the divisions that they did not know existed and the various activities that are all going on at one time. The students enjoyed making a contribution to the AVMA."

Third-year University of Illinois veterinary student Valerie Eisenbart served a 2009 externship in the Scientific Activities Division. She said, "As a student interested in career possibilities beyond private practice, (I found) one of the most valuable aspects of the externship was learning about the varied backgrounds of the AVMA staff members.

"The Scientific Activities staff members were willing to share their stories with me, and they opened my eyes to a wide range of possible career paths. I also attended an Executive Board meeting and learned how the AVMA is organized. I left with a much greater appreciation for what the AVMA does for our profession."

Tristan Colonius applied in 2009 because he is interested in the policy side of animal welfare and wanted to serve an externship in the AVMA Animal Welfare Division.

"The experience was invaluable," said Colonius, a third-year veterinary student at Louisiana State University. "I had the opportunity to see how the AVMA works as an organization and to get a general idea of what the Animal Welfare Division does.

"I was given the autonomy to take on a project under Dr. Gail Golab's guidance and that of other divisional staff. The AVMA was putting together model legislation. I did research on the scientific studies that have been done in this area of animal welfare, reviewed existing legislation, and then helped build a model. I worked with staff in the AVMA Department of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs within the Communications Division and with the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, and enjoyed the chance to work across these different staff areas."

Following the externship, Colonius served as a student panelist in "Swimming with the Tide," a symposium on animal welfare in veterinary medical education and research co-hosted by the AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges in November.

"The externship was also a truly valuable experience in another way," he said. "It helped me clarify where I want to go with my career and gave me some important connections. As a result, I will serve an externship this spring with the Ministry of Agriculture in New Zealand on its national animal welfare infrastructure and meet people in the field of animal welfare at the international level."

The other 2009 externs were Joanna Horany, a fourth-year student at Texas A&M who served in the Communications Division, and Shana Eisenstadt, a second-year student at the University of Georgia who split her externship between the Publications and the Education and Research divisions. Her Publications project, an article about the Veterinary Leadership Experience, was published Jan. 1, 2010, in JAVMA News.

Application forms for the 2010-2011 externships can be downloaded by logging on to, clicking on "Services available from the AVMA," then scrolling down to 2010 AVMA Headquarters Externship Application.