Veterinary students Vanessa Chen and Matt Hille are studying diagnostic veterinary medicine at the Wyoming State University Laboratory in Laramie this summer through the WSU Diagnostic Externship Program.
Externships are available to third- or fourth-year vet students and offered by the Department of Veterinary Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at WSU. An externship is supervised practice off-campus or away from a student's affiliated institution.
"It exposes the students to the realities of diagnostic veterinary medicine as a career," explains Donal O'Toole, professor in the department and diagnostic externship mentor.
"We need more students – ideally, of the right type: curious, outgoing, broadly educated, compassionate problem-solving – looking at this career option,"
Chen, a native of China who grew up in California, is on a four-week externship from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis. She has an undergraduate degree in neuroscience and plans to pursue a career in pathology.
"The defining feature of this veterinary lab to students is the learning environment the lab engenders," says Chen. "Among the various labs there are undergraduate pre-vet students, graduate students, externs and professors all working together.
"This continual pulse of new energy keeps students and professors excited."
Hille, a Cheyenne, Wyo., native, holds a master's degree in animal and veterinary science from UW, and is entering his third year of vet school in Iowa State University through a joint Iowa State-University of Nebraska, Lincoln, collaborative program.
His externship is supported by the Kelly Palm Memorial Externship, which is only offered to UW graduates attending a veterinary school in the U.S.
"Ever since I found out about the opportunities available to someone with a DVM degree, I have had an interest in anatomic pathology or microbiology as a career option, and that is the main reason I pursued this externship in the first place," he says.
"The ability to essentially jump around different labs at the WSVL and see all the more interesting things on a daily basis throughout the laboratory has been great and I've learned a lot."