I matched at an academic shelter medicine internship in Florida! But I bet you don’t completely know what that means.
Internship: Like human doctors, many veterinarians do internships their first year out of school (I am graduating in May). Unlike human doctors, veterinarians are legally able to go straight into practice without passing through an internship first. Veterinarians who do this tend to try to find practices which are prepared to mentor them for a year or two. Internships provide loads of good clinicial experience, and are offered by hospitals or larger private practices with a high case load and access to specialists and expensive toys like advanced imaging modalities. This gives the intern a chance to see a variety of diseases and to work with a variety of specialists, to be very prepared to practice on their own if need be. Similarly to human medicine internships, veterinary internships are very poorly paid.
Match: As in human medicine, veterinarians don’t apply to internships as to a regular job. You apply through a match program. After you have filled out your applications, you rank the internships to which you’ve applied in your order of interest. They do the same for their applicants. Then a third party matches you with the internship you most want, which also most wants you (in theory).
Academic: Internships are offered by either veterinary schools or by private practices. The internships at veterinary schools are “academic” internships and do tend to be more academically oriented, with more emphasis on things like journal clubs, publishing, etc.
Shelter medicine: Traditionally, veterinary internships allowed the intern to specialize in small animals vs large animals, but nothing more specific than that. These rotating internships allow the intern to rotate through various sub-specialties (cardiology, neurology, ophthalmology...) with plenty of time spent as the primary clinician in the emergency room for a more general view of medicine. Recently, however, specialty internships have sprung up. Most of these are intended for veterinarians who have finished a rotating internship and want a year of specialization to make them more competitive for their residency application; competitive specialties like surgery and radiology were some of the first to have specialty internships. Shelter medicine internships started appearing a few years ago, with two new ones being offered for the first time this year, for a total of five that I know of in the US. It is fairly common for shelter medicine interns to approach their specialty internship less as a bridge between rotating internship and residency, and more as a year’s experience to allow them to go straight into shelter practice. This is what I am doing, except that I expect to continue my education in other ways after my internship. Shelter medicine residency programs do exist and some shelter medicine interns go on to those.
Florida: As an inveterate New Englander I am a little nervous about Florida. But it’s just for one year.
What kinds of things will I be learning about? Community cats (also known as feral cats), animal hoarders, veterinary forensics, managing disease outbreaks, disaster response... I will do my best to cover it all here.