AAEP Commission on Veterinary Sustainability: Internship Transparency

The AAEP Commission's Internship Subcommittee is creating a new online platform for sharing information about equine veterinary internships.
Two female vets standing next to horses during their veterinary internship program.
The new AAEP Internship Hub should help match new practitioners with appropriate veterinary internship programs to meet their needs and goals. | Getty Images

The Internship Subcommittee has been at the leading edge of the AAEP’s Commission for Equine Veterinary Sustainability. The Subcommittee is focusing on modernizing the entrance point to equine practice for many new practitioners. To be clear, no one is saying that all new graduates must complete an internship. However, given the volume of new practitioners who elect to begin their career with more mentorship and guided experience, the AAEP believes this is one place it can influence change for the betterment of equine practice.

With that in mind, the Internship Subcommittee formed with the mission of fostering a transparent and ethical internship system that facilitates placing recent veterinary graduates into programs that are mutually beneficial to the intern doctor and the practice, thus setting up both parties for long-term success in equine practice. In the past year, the subcommittee has produced multiple practice-ready documents, including a best practices handbook, introduction to core competencies as a backbone of competency-based education, and guidelines for student evaluation and comparison of programs. Please find them at https://aaep.org/aaep-equine-veterinary-sustainability-initiative/internships.

The Internship Subcommittee’s next mission is a second phase of growth: imagining a better way for internship programs to highlight practices’ unique characteristics, while fostering a more transparent view of what each internship experience truly offers. 

AAEP Internship Hub

The AAEP is fully invested in transforming equine practice and has chosen to create a new online platform to share information about internships. As part of an overall website revamp, the traditional Avenues platform will transform to the brand new AAEP Internship Hub, a searchable, informative resource designed to help candidates find the programs that best fit their individual needs and goals. This should lead to long-term success for both the doctor and the mentoring practice. 

The extensive standardized program listing will focus on areas of importance for all parties involved. Along with the current basic practice information provided, practices will be asked to provide specific information on several best practices highlights. Compensation packages including emergency fee allocation, housing and benefits will be elucidated in detail. Contract elements such as inclusion of non-compete clauses and time to respond to an offer will be described. Experiential descriptions such as numbers and credentials of veterinarians and staff, access to various diagnostic equipment, and caseload numbers will be listed as a standard entry. 

Veterinary Internship Feedback Loop

A longer-term goal of AAEP’s Internship Hub is to establish an ongoing feedback loop from doctors completing the internship program to the students following behind them and the practices participating. The survey will ask three simple questions of recent program graduates at several time points: 1) Did the program you completed match the internship description as written? 2) Would you recommend this internship program to others? 3) What improvements could this program make in the future? In fairness to interns and practices, all responses will be kept anonymous and held until an appropriate volume of replies have been collected. Suggested improvements will be shared directly to practices for continued evolution of their veterinary internship programs. With just a few simple questions, practices will have a better understanding of strong and weak points, and students will have an objective rating system to compare with their own impression of the practice. 

Change is sometimes an uncomfortable process. However, growth often happens at the edge of our comfort zone. For equine veterinary internships to remain viable, educational and transformational experiences for new practitioners, practices must continue to strive forward with the evolution of our profession in mind. The AAEP is a committed partner in that goal and an agent of change for the betterment of all horse doctors. 

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