Fourth-year clinical rotations are a rite of passage for U.S. veterinary students. Most complete them in their area of interest or a clinic where they might already have a job offer. But some students elect to take a more unconventional route and do an externship abroad. And there are more opportunities than some may expect.
According to the AVMA Student Externship Locator, 21 externships are listed in the international category. These range from the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital in the Middle East to the Esther Honey Foundation in the South Pacific, which is the Cook Islands’ only veterinary clinic.
Dr. Derrick Hall, AVMA assistant director for student affairs, explained the appeal this way. “I think some veterinary students are really looking at all the different possibilities that a career in veterinary medicine can offer them. Through an increase in exposure and knowledge of one health and public health via school and clubs, some veterinary students are seeking out broader ranges of experiences, and many times, finding these experiences internationally.
“I believe the international component appeals to them because they get to be exposed to a totally different culture along with learning and improving their skills in veterinary medicine.”
Dr. Chase Crawford (Texas ’14), a former Student AVMA information technology officer, focused on issues related to one health when he was a veterinary student at Texas A&M University. His passion led him to do an externship with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome as well as the World Health Organization in Geneva.
In the summer of 2013, he spent 10 weeks at the FAO working with the Global Early Warning System team. They were responsible for the global surveillance of zoonotic diseases to detect and assess the risk of outbreaks such as H7N9 influenza in China and the Middle East respiratory syndrome. Because the GLEWS team is a collaboration between the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), FAO, and WHO, Dr. Crawford was able to continue this work with the WHO’s Food Safety and Zoonoses Department from January to March of this year.
“It was a unique experience that I would encourage any veterinary student with an interest in global health to take advantage of,” Dr. Crawford said.
Dr. Elise Ackley (Louisiana ’14), a former SAVMA president, also completed an international externship with the WHO. For six weeks, she worked with the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. Specifically, Dr. Ackley worked on rabies control and elimination strategies with pilot programs in KwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa; Visayas, Philippines; and Bali, Indonesia. A few other projects she worked on were overhauling the WHO rabies website, publishing an executive summary on the 2013 WHO Expert Consultation on Rabies, and working with WHO regional offices to collect epidemiological data for leptospirosis burden of disease.
Both Drs. Crawford and Ackley have been selected as 2014-2015 AVMA Congressional Fellows and will serve for one year in Washington, D.C., starting in August (see article).
Click here to see international externship opportunities.