June 15, 2012

 

 AVMA provides guides on internship, residency quality

Dr. Larry M. Kornegay, AVMA immediate past president
 
 
Posted on May 30, 2012
 
The AVMA is providing a pair of guides intended to assist with development of veterinary internship programs and ensure that interns and their supervisors know what to expect.

The AVMA Executive Board approved in April policies on internships and internship disclosure. The board also approved edits to the AVMA policy “Internships and Residency Programs,” which now indicates that internships should provide mentorship, direct supervision, and didactic experiences, including rounds, seminars, and formal presentations. The latter policy also was edited to more strongly state that internships are primarily educational programs for interns rather than service benefits for hospitals.

The AVMA policy “Veterinary Internships Guidelines” states that internships should help veterinarians prepare for practice or specialty training. The document is intended to establish reasonable expectations for internship providers and participants. It lists employment information that should be provided to interns and the types of orientation information, employment goals, teaching rounds, care responsibilities, emergency scheduling duties, technician and specialist support, faculty access, facilities, equipment, and outcomes that should be connected with an internship.

The policy “Veterinary Internships Disclosure Outline” lists the practice information that potential interns should receive. Such information should describe aspects of the position such as the levels of training and certifications among veterinarians and nonveterinarians on staff, the staffing and caseload for intensive care and hospital areas, the numbers of interns who started and completed the same program, responsibilities of interns, and support available for interns.

Bridget Heilsberg, Student AVMA president, said SAVMA encourages the AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges to work together to establish quality control and protection measures for graduates who participate in internships and residencies. Fourth-year students have expressed concern over the lack of consistency among such programs, mostly among internships. Students often have trouble distinguishing whether they will receive structured learning and mentorship or will be used as “cheap labor.”

“SAVMA really encourages and stands behind the AVMA taking a stance and making sure that internships are structured to the benefit of the individual, not the benefit of the hospital,” she said.

Dr. Larry M. Kornegay, AVMA immediate past president, said he also had concerns about inconsistent quality among internship programs and rapid increases in the numbers of students who were participating in such programs. He thinks the guidelines proposed by the AVMA Council on Education and approved by the board “will go a long way toward defining and clarifying what internships and residencies are and will assist not only the candidates who are pursuing these programs, but it will also help the program administrators in providing more consistent and useful internships and residencies.”

Dr. Kornegay noted that surveys of graduating students from U.S. veterinary colleges have shown that increasing percentages of those students are participating in internships. The AVMA’s 2011 survey found that, of about 1,540 graduates who had accepted employment offers, 700 had accepted internships, according to JAVMA. The 2009 survey indicated that, of 1,525 graduates who had accepted a position, 600 had accepted internships.