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|A Student Guide to Mystic Aquarium Veterinary Externships|
Since its inception in the mid 1970's, the veterinary externship program offered by the Department of Research and Veterinary Services (RAVS) at Mystic Aquarium has welcomed scores of veterinary students and veterinarians from institutions worldwide. Our current veterinary externships are available to qualified veterinary students or graduate veterinarians with an interest in aquatic animal medicine. Veterinary externships are clinically-focused, and externs are required to complete a literature review or research project during the externship, the results of which are presented in lecture format to our staff.
Veterinary externships are available for periods of time ranging from two weeks to four months and are available during both the fall and spring semesters (we do not offer veterinary externships over the summer). Veterinary externs are encouraged to come for the longest possible period for maximum opportunity and exposure. Only one veterinary extern will be present at any given time to provide each extern with the most hands-on experience possible. Veterinary externs are also offered the opportunity to learn about the aquarium’s husbandry operations through short (half to whole day) rotations through our water quality laboratory, and penguin, fish, invertebrate, herptile, and marine mammal husbandry areas as time allows. Depending on the length of externships, short rotations in our research lab may also be available. To accommodate the different methods whereby students are allocated blocks of time for preceptorships, externships etc., we accept students on a rolling admissions basis. Applications for veterinary externships frequently exceed available openings and positions are often filled over a year in advance. Interested potential veterinary externs are encouraged to submit their application early.
DutiesVeterinary externs will work the same schedule as our veterinary intern, Monday through Friday. The main duties of our veterinary externs will be to 1) assist the veterinary staff with all clinical cases, 2) attend and participate in clinical/teaching rounds, 3) complete the required research project or literature review assigned, and 4) to present the results of the project to our staff in seminar (power point) format. If time allows (or on the vet extern’s days off), externs will rotate through the laboratory and various husbandry areas based on availability and the extern’s choosing.
Externship ProjectsFor successful completion of the veterinary externship program, all externs must complete a project during their externship. Externs coming for four or more weeks generally complete a short research project, whereas externs coming for shorter periods may be asked to perform a literature review on a relevant topic instead. Externs are encouraged to come up with project ideas on their own; however, a project may be assigned. Externs should avoid proposing studies involving invasive techniques on live animals. Our Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) must review any projects involving live animal procedures. Mystic Aquarium staff members (e.g. research, veterinary, laboratory, or husbandry staff) may supervise research projects. Planning and approval for extern-designed projects take time. We therefore encourage potential externs with a specific project in mind to begin the process early. Applications submitted too late for committee approvals will not be addressed.
LogisticsAll externs must attend a brief orientation conducted by our Human Resources Department on the first day of the externship (generally a Monday). Please note that veterinary externships are unpaid (volunteer) positions and that externs are responsible for providing their own transportation, food, and housing during their externship. We will be happy to answer questions regarding logistics and can sometimes arrange for externs to stay with aquarium staff or volunteers for low rates ($100-$150 per week), but this is not guaranteed. Veterinary externs are expected to dress in the same manner as aquarium staff members. This consists of an aquarium uniform shirt and khaki pants or shorts. Khaki pants/shorts bottoms and closed-toed non-slip shoes are provided by the extern. Uniform shirts or sweatshirts are generally available for loan to externs during their stay. If appropriately sized uniform items are not available for loan, students must purchase required items. We require that all veterinary externs provide proof that they are currently enrolled in an appropriate health insurance plan.
ConductMystic Aquarium is visited by hundreds of thousands of guests each year. To the public, veterinary externs are indistinguishable from our staff. Since the appearance and activities of veterinary externs reflect on our institution we expect the same high standards of conduct, presentation, and professionalism from our externs as we do from our staff members. Unprofessional or improper behavior will not be tolerated and will be grounds for early termination of the externship.
EvaluationsAt the end of the externship the externs’ performance will be evaluated by Dr. Tuttle. The extern can receive a copy of the evaluation, upon request. If the extern’s academic institution also requires an evaluation externs must make certain that all necessary forms are turned in at the beginning of the externship. Some state licensing authorities require special certification letters listing the details of the externship experience. If your state or school has any special certification requirements please make certain that we are made aware of this.
Program evaluationWe encourage each extern to provide us with feedback regarding the externship experience. This can be done in written or oral format at the discretion of the extern. This will enable us to identify strengths and weaknesses in our program and enable us to improve the experience for future externs.
For further information, please contact: Dr. Allison Tuttle, Diplomate ACZM
VP Biological Programs
55 Coogan Boulevard
Mystic, CT 06355 Phone: (860) 572-5955 ext.101 Fax: (860) 572-5972
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