NVA Student Preceptorships give students hands-on experience to transition to new DVMs.

July 12, 2022

If you’ve ever done a preceptorship, you know that it’s meant to serve as a hands-on experience for students to make the transition to a new DVM. And, that’s just what Madison Turner experienced at I-20 Animal Medical Center with Dr. Welch and Dr. Zimmerman. If you’re interested in learning more about what ER-based preceptorship or externship is like, continue reading for Madison’s first-hand experience.

“I-20 AMC is the ideal location for a preceptorship. I simply cannot recommend it enough. The clinic is 24/7, meaning that they see GP-style appointments daily in addition to emergencies anytime. The facilities are more expansive and modern than most clinics, and yet the management is still doing frequent renovations and improvements. There is more than adequate technical staff and client service representatives to make the clinic function smoothly every day. The clinic is the single best example I have seen of a hospital that separates tasks designated for doctors, technical staff, and client service representatives. Doctors rarely pull blood, help with x-rays, or place a catheter. Doctors work with their own 1-2 technicians through their appointment schedule and with any walk-in/emergency cases, which improves efficiency and communication rather than the “all-hands-on-deck” approach most clinics seem to have that can lend itself to chaos. 

As a preceptor, I was treated like a doctor from the very first day. I was introduced as a doctor and was referred to as such throughout my time there. The title did not matter so much as the mental headspace it allows you to access in taking every single case seriously and to remember that you will be the vet in just a month or two. I was able to see cases on my own starting on the second day, and there was so much willingness and excitement from the doctors to mentor me on those cases. The doctors seemed to love working with students/new graduates and took time out of their insanely busy schedules to explain cases and medical decisions in detail. I felt like a priority to be taught rather than feeling like a burden. The mentorship I gained here was priceless; I have never had better teachers and mentors in a veterinary clinic setting than I did here. In addition, I felt cared about on a personal level completely separate from veterinary medicine. 

The schedule was technically 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., but I was encouraged to come early and/or stay late as I wished. The caseload was so large and my level of involvement was so great that I often pulled 12-14 hour days for 6 -7 day stretches before I would take a day off, but of course this is not required or expected. The atmosphere is such a great learning environment that it was hard to ever leave “on-time.”  As a result of truly taking cases as a “baby doctor,” I also was able to learn the computer software, do my own records, and write my own discharge instructions and prescriptions. All of this has undoubtedly prepared me so much for clinical practice. The technicians were all so nice and willing to help when I had questions. They have just about any diagnostic tool you would need on-site and just got a brand new ultrasound machine. I was told several times that the vets here really enjoy having Auburn students specifically. 

If you are looking for an ER-based preceptorship, this is the one. Period. Show up ready, willing, and excited to learn, and you can get so much out of the experience. Dr. Welch, Dr. Zimmerman, Dr. Kraft, and Dr. Billen were exceptional teachers and any veterinary student would be lucky to work with them. If you preceptor here, be ready to want to stay forever- it is that good, especially for a soon-to-be new graduate. If this reads like a love letter, it’s because it is. I would not have wanted to spend my last days as a student anywhere else.”

Thank you to the team at I-20 AMC for giving Madison such a great experience and hands-on learning. If you’re interested in learning more about Preceptorship or Externships, visit our Externship page for opportunities.