After graduating I worked in a predominantly large animal, mixed practice in Offaly for several months before starting internship. Why start off in mixed practice? Mixed practice is a good chance to help transition from University to busy equine practice. It also helps gain experience in stressful situations, how to avoid getting overwhelmed by situations and also practice your hands-on skills such as performing simple surgical procedures and dealing with difficult clients.
Applying for Internships
Private practice vs Academic Internships
Due to the ever-growing competition for residency programs, two internships, one private practice and one academic gives you massive potential for being a good residency candidate. Surgical residencies can be the hardest to get due to competition, however internal medicine and sports medicine residencies are growing in popularity and should not be overlooked. If residencies are not your intentions, private practice rotating internships can be greatly beneficial as there can have a lot more hands on experience, higher caseloads and rotating will benefit your surgical, medicine and sports medicine skills.
Europe vs USA
Historically equine internships in Kentucky have been the go-to place for Irish graduate and we have represented ourselves very well over there. The level of equine care and quality of specialist equine clinics in Ireland are improving exponentially and an argument could now be made that there isn’t a need to have to move anymore. Passing the NAVLE is not a requirement for doing a lot of American internships. If you wish to do a residency in USA it is recommended to do at least one internship in USA and the Kentucky practices have a lot a connections and high residency rates.
As most internship applications are an extremely competitive process, employers have the luxury of being very picky in their selections. The majority of practices do not just want to employ the knowledgeable applicant or the one with the most horse experience. Externships play a massive role in securing an internship. The current interns play a massive part in who gets future internships as they are who spends most time with the externs. Helping the interns from starting time in the morning until finishing time (everything done especially clean up) is most important. Listening to the interns advise at all times is imperative, picking the right time to ask questions, and if the intern asks you to do something, if you are not 100% sure about it, tell them. No matter how stressed they are it is unsafe and the consequences of not being comfortable doing something such as holding a horse could cause a disastrous situation. Most employers ask the interns’ opinion on each applicant and being a team player and a hard but safe worker will win the praise of any intern before the most knowledgeable. Returning for several externships is highly recommended for the staff to get to know you.
Other opportunities after internships
After completing your internship, you do not have to stay in equine practice. Due to more money being pumped into the equine industry in Ireland, owners expected standards of veterinary care are rising. More horse owners are moving over from mixed practices and towards equine practices. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the way for first opinions, emergency care and long-term post op care just like what a lot of mixed practices are doing for small animals and referring patients. An internship can really help if you wish to enter mixed practice with a keen interest in equine. Performing an internship can also have many benefits in your character, surgical, medical and workmanship skills which for sure can be transferred across to other animals.
Kevin is a Tipperary native and graduated from the University of Life Sciences Warsaw, Poland. He began his veterinary career in mixed practice in Offaly before starting his Equine Internship at Fethard Equine Hospital. Kevin is currently working in mixed animal practice at Millstreet Vet Group and his therapy area’s of interest are equine neonatal internal medicine and anaesthesia.