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Externs and Veterinary 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. CWC offers externships for graduate veterinarians and veterinary students, as well as students of biology, ecology, conservation and pre-veterinary medicine. 

CWC 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. It is suited for those considering careers in wildlife, zoo and/or exotic animal medicine, as well as conservation medicine, conservation biology or wildlife rehabilitation.

Program tracks
Training Modules
Research Projects

Choice of program track

There are two program tracks (click on role title to view expanded position description):

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.


Cape Wildlife Center accepts externs on a year-round basis; April - September are the busiest months and fill up quickly. Please submit an application as soon as possible in order to secure your preferred dates.

Arrival dates may be flexible to accommodate international and cross-country travel; however, new extern orientation sessions are required before externs can interact with Cape Wildlife Center patients. Much of this work can be completed before arrival via online tutorial; the rest involves training with staff. Externs who have not yet completed their orientation will be assigned administrative duties and module training until they have done so.

Wildlife work can be physically and mentally challenging. 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. On-site housing is available, pending availability.


The program offers a combination of hands-on and didactic training. 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 experience, externs may also be assigned additional hands-on training in areas including pathology, diagnosis, physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Training Modules

Each extern will be assigned a specific number of training modules to be completed during their experience, 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 reading and assignments. Each module will conclude with a written exam.

Topics may include:

  • Anesthesia 
  • Cleaning/sterilization
  • Ethics for rehabilitators
  • Fecals
  • 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
  • Nutrition and nutritional deficiencies in rehabilitation
  • Pharmacy
  • Physical therapy
  • Rabies vector species
  • Radiology
  • Release criteria
  • Triage
  • Venipuncture

Research Projects

Each extern will conduct weekly research projects to enhance the skills acquired during the externship and demonstrate meaningful application of those skills to species treated by Cape Wildlife Center.

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.

Positions often fill up six months or more in advance, so please submit your application as soon as you know your availability.

To apply, fill out an application below. Note: you will be asked to submit a cover letter (note the dates you are available for the externship in your letter), résumé, completed Essential Capabilities document, three letters of recommendation, and an unofficial transcript with the application.

Fill out an application now for the Extern position »
Fill out an application now for the Veterinary Extern position »

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