Hands-On Training Enhances Student Veterinarians’ Skills


July 21, 2022

The transition from third to fourth year marks a significant milestone for student veterinarians at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) as they move from lectures and labs into a year of intensive clinical training.  

Not only do students hone their clinical and diagnostic skills during this final year of their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, but also their communication, technical and problem-solving skills.  

They begin their clinical year with an eight-week externship where they have an opportunity to practice their skills in a real world setting as part of a veterinary team providing animal care to the public.  

Supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) through the Veterinary Capacity Program as a part of Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, students complete the eight-week externship placement in a veterinary practice that works with food animals, as well as companion animals and/or horses. 

The Veterinary Capacity Program provides annual funding to OVC to help prepare veterinary graduates with an emphasis on animal agriculture, emergency preparedness, food security and animal-related public health. 

Veterinary practitioners who host the students not only provide their expertise and mentorship, they also evaluate the students’ progress in achieving core competencies, ranging from clinical abilities to communication skills, which will be essential during their first months after graduation.  

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a three-part series of blogs from a previous student veterinarian chronicling her externship experience.  

Dr. Morganna Turner, OVC DVM 2022, completed her externship in summer 2021

Dr. Morganna Turner, OVC DVM 2022, completed her externship in the summer of 2021 at the Paris Veterinary Clinic in Paris, Ontario.   

During their fourth and clinical year, student veterinarians choose to focus on a particular ‘stream’ – either small animal, food animal, equine or rural community practice. Morganna chose the rural community practice (mixed) stream, allowing her to work with both small and large animals. She chose the Paris Veterinary Clinic with the aim to gain hands-on clinical experience with all species, to learn more about large animal medicine and experience veterinarians’ integral role in the agriculture industry, and experience how to approach and think through real life medical cases. 

First, here’s a little about her journey to veterinary school. 

The Journey to Veterinary School

“After my first year of my undergraduate degree, I realized that studying inanimate aspects of nature was not actually something I was passionate about, and I switched my major to biology and environmental science. I became quite interested in wildlife conservation, which brings me to the defining experience that led me to veterinary medicine - a trip to Mexico in the summer after my second year of university. During this trip I worked with wild reptiles, amphibians, four-legged mammals, bats and birds, and many sea creatures, handling them, studying them, and recording data with the purpose of demonstrating the importance of and thus preserving existing conservation areas in the area.   

“I greatly enjoyed learning about local wildlife and working with people who were as passionate as I was about the natural world, but I found it very hard to not be able to tangibly help the animals. The nature of the data we were tasked with collecting required that we show the true natural state of the animals, and as a result, we not interfere with the course of nature. After this trip, I realized I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to help animals and humans in an easily perceptible and meaningful way to me, and this led me back to my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian.   

“I spent the rest of my undergrad eagerly volunteering in veterinary clinics, taking pre-requisite courses I needed, and reflecting on animal experience I’d gained throughout my life. Once I felt ready, I applied to the Ontario Veterinary College in my fourth year of university. Looking back, it is incredible to see how much I grew as a person in veterinary school and how much confidence I developed in myself and in my abilities as a student clinician.”  

Watch this space in the next few weeks for a peek inside Morganna’ externship experience.  

Find blogs from previous student veterinarians at the OVC Externship Blog Project.

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