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Department of Veterinary Sciences

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Dept. of Veterinary Sciences

University of Wyoming

1174 Snowy Range Road

Laramie, WY 82070

Phone: (307) 766-9925

Fax: (307) 721-2051


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Department of Veterinary Sciences

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Diagnostic Externship Program for Veterinary Students

Eligibility for the Externship

Within limitations of personnel time and space availability at the Department of Veterinary Sciences, any third- or fourth-year student in good academic standing from an accredited college of veterinary medicine in the United States or Canada is eligible for the externship. It is difficult to accommodate more than 2 people simultaneously unless prior arrangements are made (i.e., during scheduled experimental and/or field studies where more students can be used). Students with the best qualifications, as demonstrated by resume and academic standing, are chosen for a given time period.

How to Apply

Students should apply by letter to head of the diagnostic extern program (see below) in the Department of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Wyoming. The letter should provide a resume of their professional and academic experience, and the time period(s) preferred for the externship. The applicant should also have a letter sent from the academic dean at his/her college indicating approval of the externship.

Length of Externship

The length of externship is flexible. Typically is 1 to 4 weeks. The busiest time of the year and therefore the best time to see routine diagnostic accessions in food animals is late January-early May.

Questions on enrollment

Please contact the head of the diagnostic externship program:

Dr. Donal O'Toole MVB, PhD, MRCVS, DipECVP, FRCPath
Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Wyoming
1174 Snowy Range Road
Laramie, Wyoming 82070
PHONE: 307 742 6638; FAX: 307 721 2051

Housing and Financial Assistance

The department has a small endowment to help with expenses of externs (travel; accommodation; per diem). Students might consider contacting the CL Davis Foundation for help with a stipend. For information about CL Davis externships, which is available to veterinary students who are interested in pathology, contact Dr. Jim Britt DVM MS DACVP (phone: 501-907-2435 (Central Time). Housing can be difficult to locate in Laramie during academic sessions (third week of Jan – first week of May; third week of August – third week of December). Faculty members can sometimes assist students secure university accommodation either through staff members in the department or through the university’s student housing unit at Residence Life and Dining Services. You might try commercial services (try 1 or 2), or classified advertisements in the local newspaper, the Boomerang. Student housing is most likely to be secured if we are contacted well in advance of your proposed start date. Externship programs should be arranged at least 3 months in advance of the starting date.

Purpose/Objectives of the Externship

The purpose of the externship is to expose the veterinary student to diagnostic veterinary medicine in a publicly subsidized animal health laboratory. Major objectives are to acquaint the veterinary student with:

  • The role of diagnostic pathologists in performing necropsies
  • The role of ancillary disciplines (microbiology; toxicology; epidemiology; serology) in establishing the basis for illness or death in animals
  • Interaction with veterinary clients in disease outbreaks in food and companion animals
  • Examples of major diseases of livestock and other species
  • Research studies on diseases of livestock and companion animals

Treatment of individual animals for illnesses or injuries is NOT an aspect of the externship

Click here for advice on a successful externship

Externship Activities

The extern’s activities depend upon on-going work at the Department of Veterinary Sciences during the time period. An effort will be made to expose the student to a variety of experiences. Students participate in necropsies, including writing up their gross observations in the laboratory’s database. They follow cases through until the final report goes out to clients. They will review HE slides from surgical and necropsy-in-a-bag accessions. Students are often asked to present one lecture (previously prepared by Dr. O'Toole, and updated/tweaked by the extern) in undergraduate courses in which he teaches (Diseases of Food Animal (fall); Health and Diseases of Horses (spring); Mammalian Path biology (spring)). If a diagnostic field trip is made, participation is expected. During their stay, student are expected to respond to questions pertaining to assigned readings, lectures, and field experience, and to participate in Department of Veterinary Sciences seminars. The externship program is a team effort. The extern may be assigned to various faculty members during the program, specifically the pathologist on duty, and may spend time in other units in the WSVL (bacteriology, virology, toxicology, etc). It benefits the department if the extern presents on a topic of interest to the department during his/her stay. Typically this involves describing either their professional program, or past experience they had (e.g., previous externship or professional exposure) to interest to faculty, technical staff and pre-veterinary students at the University of Wyoming.

No formal tests are given. The director of the externship program, in consultation with faculty members and technical staff, evaluates the extern in the format provided by the veterinary college of origin. Evaluation factors are engagement, enthusiasm, participation in assigned work, academic capability, and capacity to project a professional mien.


What to bring

Few banana trees grow in Laramie during the winter. To get around town, it is strongly advised you have a car due to winter conditions and snow. Bring your own set of boots. We provide PPE for the necropsy floor. You will be looking at slides, so it is helpful to bring histology and pathology texts. And if you have a sense of humor bring that too.

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