August 11, 2013
Externs, Cape Wildlife Center
Cape Wildlife Center, a program of The HSUS in partnership with the Fund for Animals, is a non-profit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility that specializes in native species. It offers externships for graduate veterinarians and veterinary students, as well as students of biology, ecology, conservation, and pre-veterinary medicine.
Externships offer experience in triage, anesthesia, surgery, and treatment of a variety of species, as well as the essentials of wildlife handling, recovery, rehabilitation, and release.
They are suited for those considering careers in wildlife, zoo and/or exotic animal medicine, as well as conservation medicine, conservation biology, or wildlife rehabilitation.
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Externship—suited for undergraduate and graduate students of biology, zoology, ecology, conservation, or veterinary medicine (first to third year). Programs typically last six to eight weeks; special exceptions may be made, based on factors including the applicant's level of expertise and the staff's availability to accommodate longer/shorter requests.
Veterinary Externship—suited for senior veterinary students, graduate foreign veterinarians and veterinary technician students. Programs typically last four to eight weeks; special exceptions may be made, based on factors including the applicant's level of expertise and the staff's availability to accommodate longer/shorter requests.
Note: although practicing veterinarians do not fit the parameters of the externship program, they may be accepted as professional visitors. The same application and selection process apply; however, their programs will be tailored based on factors including areas of specialty and the medical needs of Cape Wildlife Center.
All externs must be at least 21 years of age and be veterinary or pre-veterinary students at an accredited college or university.
All externs handling rabies-vector species must provide proof of rabies prophylaxis vaccination and current titers. If proof of rabies vaccination/titers are not received prior to the start of the externship, the extern will not be permitted to work with raccoons, woodchucks, foxes, skunks, bats, or any other rabies-vector species. While vaccination/titers are not required for participation, applicants with them may be given preference for admission, as they will be able to most fully participate in the program.
Each applicant must provide his or her own medical insurance. All externs and veterinary externs for whom English is a second language are required to supply proof of English competence and comprehension.
While it is the goal of Cape Wildlife Center to accommodate all qualified applicants, due to the limited number of spots available and housing constraints, externs may not be placed, or may not receive their first choice of externship dates.
On-site lodging is available in a dorm-style facility that can accommodate up to eight people on a space-available basis. Transportation to and from the facility is not provided.
Selection is based upon criteria including academic achievement, application and references. A background check conducted by The HSUS will also be required.
Each applicant must complete an online application and provide a curriculum vitae or resumé, veterinary school transcripts (copies are acceptable), a letter of intent describing their career goals and reasons for wanting to participate in the program and three letters of reference (two from professors/veterinary professionals and one personal reference).
All applicants will also complete a telephone or in-person interview with the medical director and/or director of wildlife rehabilitation, during which skill levels and degree of interest will be assessed.
Before program acceptance is finalized, applicants must complete an online training evaluation covering the skills required to successfully complete the program and specifics relating to Cape Wildlife Center, including housing, safety, schedules, and day-to-day operations. A score of 80 percent or higher is required to finalize acceptance into the program; the evaluation must be completed at least 30 days before the externship is scheduled to start.
Due to university schedules, U.S. externs typically participate in the program between June and September, while international students participate from March through May and from Oct. through Dec. Those parameters may vary depending on the specific student's schedule.
While every effort is made to accommodate students' first choice of dates, high demand during certain times of the year may make this impossible, in which case, alternative dates may be offered.
Arrival dates will be somewhat flexible to accommodate international and cross-country travel; however, new extern orientation programs, required before externs can interact with Cape Wildlife Center patients, will be offered on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Externs who arrive before a scheduled orientation will be assigned administrative duties and module training until they complete their orientation.
Wildlife work can be a physically and mentally challenging experience. Externs can expect to begin work early in the morning (typically around 7 a.m.) and, depending upon the needs of the wildlife patients, may be called upon to put in a 12-hour day.
Each extern will have two full days off per week, scheduled at the discretion of the staff. Days off will accommodate the Center's needs and will not necessarily be consecutive.
The program offers a combination of hands-on training and curriculum-based measurement. All students will work in the clinic under the supervision of the medical director and/or director of wildlife rehabilitation on a rotational schedule; habitat/grounds cleaning, diet preparation, animal enrichment, and telephone triage will also be assigned on a rotating basis.
Depending upon level of expertise/education, externs may also be assigned additional hands-on training in areas including pathology, diagnosis, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
Applicants with specific interests/skill sets may, upon prior approval by the medical director and/or director of rehabilitation, be assigned a specific, focused externship. However, this is contingent upon factors including level of expertise, length of externship and number of other externs participating in the program.
Based on factors including level of education and length of externship, each extern will be assigned a specific number of modules, each focused on a technique or process integral to wildlife veterinary medicine.
The modules will be self-paced; students will be given time during scheduled work days to complete their reading and assignments; independent study is also encouraged. Each module will conclude with a written exam, including three questions chosen randomly from that module's exam bank.
Topics will include:
- Blood collection
- Ethics for rehabilitators
- Fluid therapy
- Housing, habitats and enrichment
- Hypothermia/hyperthermia detection and management
- New England wildlife (with a focus on species of concern, threatened and endangered species)
- Nursery care for birds and mammals, including rabies vs. non-rabies vector species
- Nutrition and nutritional deficiencies in rehabilitation
- PCV and total solids
- Physical therapy
- Rabies vector species
- Release criteria
The exams will be graded by the medical director or director of wildlife rehabilitation; a grade of 80 percent or better is required and modules may be repeated. Failure to successfully complete all assigned modules will result in an incomplete assessment for the externship program and may result in early program termination.
During their externship, all externs will be required to make presentations on subject matters relating to issues relevant to Cape Wildlife Center's patients and treatments. Externs will determine a topic of study for each week of their program; topics must be pre-approved by the medical director and/or the director of wildlife rehabilitation.
During his/her program, the extern will make weekly PowerPoint presentations to staff, guests, and other students as part of Grand Rounds. The presentations must reflect skills acquired during the externship and provide meaningful application of those skills to species treated by Cape Wildlife Center.
In addition to the independent study, each extern will also be required to complete a program evaluation and complete an exit interview with the medical director and/or director of wildlife rehabilitation.
A positive assessment from the medical director and/or director of wildlife rehabilitation is required for successful completion of the program.
Program Dates: Sun., March 3 through Sat., Dec. 28.
Note: Arrivals before March 3 and departures after Dec. 28 must be pre-approved by the medical director and/or director of wildlife rehabilitation.
Orientation Sessions: held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month:
- March 12 and 26
- April 9 and 23
- May 14 and 28
- June 11 and 25
- July 9 and 23
- Aug. 13 and 27
- Sept. 10 and 24
- Oct. 8 and 22
- Nov. 12
Schedule may be altered based upon factors including staffing, patient census, and number of externs entering the program.
In addition meeting all the requirements above, externs must sign a waiver and release of liability. International externs are solely responsible for obtaining any required visas.
To apply, fill out an application. Positions often fill up six months or more in advance, so please submit your application as soon as you know your availability.
Note: You will be asked to provide a cover letter, resumé, three letters of recommendation, and an unofficial transcript with this application.