As the popularity of veterinary internships has grown, we’ve also experienced a few growing pains. That’s to be expected, especially when the number of positions available and the number of applicants interested in internships has grown steadily over the past decade.
The AVMA has been aware of the challenges facing both internship providers and new graduates seeking internships for a few years now. As a matter of fact, the AVMA Executive Board approved the formation of a joint AVMA/AAVMC task force in 2009 to assess the status of veterinary internships, identify areas that need improvement and develop a plan to address identified needs. The work of the Task Force on Veterinary Internships, which began in earnest in early 2010 and culminated in a final report last spring, was instrumental in helping us find ways to improve the internship experience for everyone involved.
Thanks to the efforts of task force members, the AVMA Executive Board voted at its meeting last week to approve AVMA policies to help reduce ambiguity and create clear expectations for both internship providers and participants.
The Policy on Veterinary Internships Disclosure Outline, in concert with the Policy on Veterinary Internships Guidelines, establish minimum quality and appropriate assessment criteria, and include specific information to help educate students, student advisers and providers. The Internship Disclosure Form and the Internship Guidelines, which can be found on pages 13 and 18, respectively, in the task force’s final report, will help both interns and providers more fully appreciate the purpose of internships and reduce the potential for different expectations.
We are also conducting research through AVMA surveys that we believe will provide sound data on why students are pursuing internships and the quality of their experience. The surveys will also help us assess the economic value of the internship experience.
Not all internships are created equal, and experiences will vary depending on myriad factors. It’s our hope that studying the veterinary internship experience from all angles, along with providing specific tools to help promote positive outcomes, will enhance the value of the internship experience and help both interns and providers benefit from what should be an educational experience that helps pave the way toward a successful career.