Study to consider internship experiences, expectations

Published on July 13, 2011
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A survey of veterinarians could help determine the need for an internship quality assurance program.

In early June, the AVMA Executive Board approved spending up to $13,360 on a survey intended to gauge internship quality and satisfaction. The survey is expected to begin in 2011, but no start date had been set by press time.

The AVMA Task Force on Veterinary Internships indicated in a recommendation to the board that the number of internship positions available through the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians' Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program increased from 175 in 1988 to 850 in 2009, while the number of applicants increased from 473 to 1,104.

An unknown number of institutions offer internships outside the program.

Dr. Larry M. Kornegay, AVMA president, said that veterinarians interested in pursuing post-graduate training and education have sought internship positions offered through private practice settings rather than teaching institutions at an increasing rate over the past few decades. In considering the apparent increased interest in interships and examining results of the program that matches interns with available positions, the task force received anecdotal information indicating that internship experiences vary considerably among programs and sometimes differ from intern expectations.

Dr. Larry G. Dee, District IV Executive Board representative and a member of the task force, said more data are needed to make rational, evidence-based decisions on how to resolve any such problems for the veterinarians who take on an internship, often at reduced pay, to obtain additional tutelage, mentoring, and training. Dr. Kornegay hopes the survey will indicate how experiences vary among internships, and the board expects the survey will help improve matching efforts and help ensure that experiences more closely match expectations.

The Executive Board had considered the proposal in April but delayed action to find out whether other organizations would be willing to help pay the estimated $20,000 total cost for the survey, Dr. Dee said. In a memorandum given to board members for their June meeting, Dr. David E. Granstrom, director of the AVMA Education and Research Division, said the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and American Animal Hospital Association have agreed to contribute money for the survey. The American Association of Equine Practitioners was considering contributing to the survey but had not decided by press time.

During its April meeting, the Executive Board also approved a recommendation from the task force to spend $5,000 to analyze existing data from the most recent AVMA Biennial Economic Survey. That survey was conducted in 2010 and included information on income and participation in internship and residency programs.