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Veterinary students find a perfect match for their skills
By Laura Whelan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Technology has opened the door to future success for veterinary students and interns at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
With the help of an advanced on-line computer network called the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program, five graduating students received internships and three current interns were matched with elite residencies.
"Only a small subset of students go on to internships and residencies," said Dr. Andrew Mackin, associate professor of small animal internal medicine and chair of the Intern/Resident Committee at MSU-CVM. "They often represent the best of their graduating class and are looking to specialize in particular areas, so they need to gain as much exposure and experience as possible to excel in those areas."
After receiving their doctorate in veterinary medicine, veterinary students who want to excel often participate in internships and then may go on to work in residencies.
But with a variety of veterinary schools and private practices across the country offering a limited number of internships and residencies, it can be difficult to find the place best suited for individual interests and special skills.
That is where the internship and residency matching program comes in, matching the applicant's abilities and interests with premier positions in schools and private practices across the country. To begin the competitive process, students visit the program's website, which is sponsored by the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians, to view available positions.
"Students and current interns apply to the individual schools they are interested in, and submit their list of top choices electronically," Mackin explained. "The institutions and private practices then analyze the applicants and submit their top choices to the program. The computer program compares the data and lines up the best possible match."
"We had some great placements this year in very competitive positions at high-profile programs," Mackin said. "This is a reflection of the caliber of students MSU's veterinary college is producing, which, in turn, provides this school with more recognition and better relations with other schools."
Dr. Justin Payne, small animal medicine and surgery intern at MSU, received his veterinary degree from Tuskegee University, and the program matched him with an internship at MSU. Now, he has been placed through the program in a small animal surgical residency at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most elite positions available.
"This was a great match for me," Payne said. "Pennsylvania was my No.1 choice, and by going there I will get to experience a new environment and a high caseload. I feel that it will allow me to become a more effective surgeon and a better veterinarian."
Jana Martin is a fourth-year veterinary student at the top of her class who will receive her DVM in May. She was matched with the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine for a small animal rotating internship.
"Applying for these positions is extremely competitive, even more so than getting into vet school. The matching program is almost a necessity for getting an ideal position," Martin said.
MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine utilizes a problem-based learning program that emphasizes the clinical aspect of veterinary medicine. Students begin clinical studies early, freeing their senior year for externships, opportunities to study outside the veterinary school and gain additional experience. Martin attributed her intense training and preparation to this program, which allowed her to work an externship at Auburn and prompted her interest in their internship program.
"The internship at Auburn was my top choice, and I know that my educational experience at MSU was invaluable at getting me to the internship and residency level," Martin said.
Contact: Dr. Andrew Mackin, (662) 325-6631