Like getting an internship for any job, a veterinary internship is a great way to get some real-world experience and training.
Pursuing an internship can also help you get your foot in the door after you graduate from veterinary school. You'll also meet mentors and learn about different specialties within the field of veterinary medicine.
Benefits of veterinary internships
If you graduate from a doctoral veterinary school program, you’ll receive a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, or DVM, and you’ll need to study and pass the national and state board exams.
Some states require graduates to work under the direct supervision of a veteran veterinarian before granting permission to practice independently.
An internship is the perfect opportunity to start learning from, and working with, an experienced veterinarian.
Another benefit of an internship is that it provides a hands-on platform for specialization.
If you’re thinking about becoming board-certified in surgery, or another specialized area of veterinary medicine, an internship or residency can be the perfect place to take your training to the next level.
You’ll need to decide what kinds of animals you want to focus on. The training for somebody who works with horses is different than that of one who works primarily with canines.
How do I find out about internships?
Every year a list of internships is published that outlines residency and internship opportunities available for the following year.
A good vet school will have access to this industry-specific list. Make sure that your prospective school offers internship guidance before you enroll in their vet program.
If you're applying for multiple internships, create an order of preference indicating your most desired and least desired internships. The clinics, hospitals and universities will review the applications and match qualified interns with relevant opportunities, using the order of preference to weigh decisions in the matching process.
How hard is it to get a vet internship?
Getting excellent grades during veterinary school is important (if you rank at the bottom of your class you’ll be unlikely to get an internship). However, a particular internship or residency will be more or less competitive based on the specialization being offered at that particular internship.
Similar to applying for a job, an internship or residency can require graduates to submit a resume, garner letters of recommendation, collect official transcripts and write personal statements.
It’s also worth noting that most residencies are only offered to students who have previously completed an internship.
Where should you intern?
Technically, you could try to get an internship at the same place you attended vet school. However, the industry standard is to avoid this practice and instead try to get a private practice or university internship at another location.
What’s the difference?
Generally a private practice internship can give you a better daily glimpse of the business involved in running a private vet clinic. Conversely, a university internship can be more academically focused, with an emphasis on research and teaching rather than the DIY nature of private practice.
Search for internships in your area of interest at the Veterinary Internship & Residency Matching Program.
Get more general information from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).