The PetIQ Preventive Care Externship

“We want to help students be successful and confident in their communication and preventive care skills. There are so many ways to contribute to veterinary medicine, and we’d love them to be more aware of this one.” – Dr. Sarah Cutler Tew, PetIQ Senior Director, Medical Affairs


What Makes the Preventive Care Externship Unique?

While many externships in small animal clinics include preventive care, the PetIQ preventive care externship is currently the only externship in the U.S. that is entirely focused on preventive care. The PetIQ externship also gives veterinary students access to a national network of mentor veterinarians. It provides them with experience working with a national organization while focusing locally on pets and parents.

Why Did PetIQ Start the Preventive Care Externship?

Veterinary schools are in a challenging position, trying to teach everything in four years. Externships help complement the student’s education by giving them another opportunity to spend time interacting with pets in a hands-on environment during their education journey. The externship also gives our PetIQ veterinarians a chance to demonstrate the importance of preventive care and pet wellness in their real-world wellness centers. Preventive care is essential care, and it is great to see young veterinarians experiencing the impact that the preventive care they administer has on pets and pet parents, both nationwide and close to home. Lastly, PetIQ started the externship because we love meeting new veterinarians—and helping them understand the kind of veterinarians they want to be. Part of our mission is to make veterinarians’ lives better, just as we make pet lives better. Sharing PetIQ’s focus on preventive and wellness care and helping new veterinarians understand what they want out of their careers is a big part of that!

How Does the Externship Help Veterinary Students?

Veterinary students in the externship program get hands-on experience in our wellness clinics, so they experience the day-to-day life of a PetIQ wellness veterinarian. They gain experience counseling pet parents on topics like nutrition and preventive care. They also assist with PetIQ’s minor medical packages and lead conversations regarding eye, ear, skin, GI and urinary examinations and treatment, under the supervision of their mentor veterinarian. As part of the externship, externs will also conduct physical and wellness exams on pets at our clinic, getting hands-on experience drawing blood, running tests and administering vaccines. A hugely important aspect of real-world experience is also communication. The externship enhances skills in pet parent communication and working with their healthcare team members in the clinic.

Mentoring is a big part of the PetIQ experience too. PetIQ’s onboarding experience includes a mentorship program, which helps new employee veterinarians acclimate to the PetIQ model and connects them to a greater network of veterinarians they can rely on for advice and guidance. The PetIQ externship aims to provide externs with this kind of mentorship experience as well and connects them to experienced PetIQ veterinarians who can help guide them and extend their education. PetIQ externs will have daily and in-the-moment check-ins with their mentor veterinarian, who can answer any questions they have about the practice and their experiences—and act as someone they can rely on for wisdom and advice throughout their externship and into their career as a veterinarian.

Overall, the externship is a great hands-on experience that helps veterinary students understand the day-to-day responsibilities of a PetIQ veterinarian, allows them to define the kind of veterinarian they want to be and gets them connected with the greater veterinary world.

How Does the Externship Complement University Education?

Veterinary schools teach a lot, and they have a lot to teach. One element that the PetIQ externship complements is knowledge on preventive and wellness care and client communication. Ultimately providing preventive care and communicating its importance with pet parents is vital for the pet’s happiness and health. The externship gives students visibility into why preventive care is a critical part of the spectrum of the practice of veterinary medicine. It may also spark a passion for preventive medicine, as veterinary students get to see first-hand the impact they have on the lives of pets and pet parents.

For example, take two of our clients at PetIQ, Gerald and Lucy. Gerald is in his 80s, and Lucy is his Dachshund. Gerald wanted to do everything right for his new best friend but was challenged with some of the home compliance Lucy needed, like getting a picky eater to accept her heartworm preventative. Gerald came to a PetIQ wellness clinic one day for Lucy’s exam and vaccinations, and the PetIQ clinic team was able to help him with a lot of Lucy’s needs that were difficult for him, such as nail trims. The education that the veterinarian provided, the convenience of the wellness clinic location and the excellent experience they had overall mean that they now come back every month to help tend to Lucy’s needs and keep her as happy and healthy as possible. Lucy is Gerald’s whole world, and caring for her improved both of their lives.

The PetIQ externship gives veterinary students the opportunity to discover these success stories, allowing them to see the real-world consequences of the improved access to preventive care that PetIQ provides and what a positive impact it makes in the lives of pets and pet parents.

How Does the Externship Program Benefit Existing PetIQ Veterinarians?

It’s a great way to give back and share knowledge and experience with the next generation of veterinarians—and we look to support that whenever we can. Being a PetIQ veterinarian means being part of a larger network of veterinarians that can support one another, both in their work as clinically practicing veterinarians and their roles as mentors and colleagues. Ultimately, the PetIQ externship program is a win-win for our veterinarians and for the veterinary students who participate.

How Can I Join the PetIQ Externship Program?

The externship program is open to any veterinary students in good standing from accredited programs who want to enroll. Please submit an application online. We take pride in the extent of our veterinary network and can place students in clinics across the U.S., and we work actively with our externs to find a clinic that suits them. PetIQ even provides a stipend to cover food and lodging, allowing veterinarians to travel to different parts of the country and experience new places.

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