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The Jennifer Polkow-Haight Memorial
Veterinary Technician Externship at MU

Program Highlights:

  • Up to six extern positions per semester available
  • Multiple specialties available
  • Hands-on learning opportunities
  • Externship is tailored to the applicant’s interests and school requirements
  • Networking and potential career leads
  • State of the art technology and specialty services
  • Supportive and encouraging environment

Important Dates:

  • Summer externship application submissions accepted:
    January 1 – March 15
  • Fall/Winter externship application submissions accepted:
    July 1 – August 15
  • Spring externship application submissions accepted:
    November 1 -December 15

Ideal Candidate Qualities:

  • Motivated
  • Enthusiastic
  • Punctual
  • Strong work ethic
  • Outgoing
  • Positive attitude
  • Organized
  • Inquisitive
  • Eager to learn


How To Apply:

Step 1:

  • Submit required documents via email to:
    • Email subject line: Vet Tech Extern APPLICATION__ (Applicant’s Name)
    • Letter of interest
    • Resume
    • Proof of current enrollment in an accredited veterinary technology program (online only programs excluded)
    • Required number of externship hours needed

Step 2:

  • (Two) Letters of recommendation must be submitted via email directly from the reference(s) to:
    • Email Subject Line: Vet Tech Extern REFERENCE__ (Applicant’s Name)
    • Minimum (one) reference letter MUST be from a current instructor in the veterinary technology program. Please also indicate the student’s attendance record while enrolled in the veterinary technology program.
    • Other reference letters may be from either educational or professional source(s).

Selection Process:

Applicants will receive notification via email when both steps 1 and 2 of the application process is complete. Once applications have been reviewed by the selection committee, successful applicants will be invited to interview. Interviews may take place either in-person or via Zoom. Applicants will be notified either via phone or email of acceptance into the externship program.

Program Information:

MU’s veterinary technician externship provides a valuable learning experience and exposure to many different specialties within the field of veterinary technology through both observational and hands-on applications. The externship is available for veterinary technology students enrolled in traditional in-person programs. We are not able to accept students enrolled in online only programs.

The Veterinary Health Center located at Clydesdale Hall, provides state-of-the-art teaching and medical services. In addition to being a teaching facility for future veterinarians, the VHC provides a veterinary technician externship program. The program coordinates a spring, summer, and fall/winter semester schedule with up to six positions available per semester. The student will work directly with their assigned mentor to customize a rotation schedule that meets the student’s interests and school requirements. There are 13 specialties available for rotation; however, time may not permit visiting all specialties. Work hours may vary depending on the section. Our mission will not limit student’s experience if they choose to stay longer to complete all rotations.

Housing, insurance, and scrub attire are the responsibility of the applicant.

Feel free to email with any questions about the program.

Sections Available for Rotation:

Anesthesia The anesthesia section services the entire VHC to deliver the highest standard of care utilizing state-of-the-art monitoring and anesthetic delivery equipment. Students will have opportunities to observe and assist with anesthesia delivery for routine and complicated surgical procedures as well as a variety of imaging studies such as MRIs and CT scans. Students will benefit from observing and participating in anesthesia-related duties, such as IV sedation, anesthetic protocol development, patient induction and monitoring, IV and arterial catheter placement, a variety of local blocks including epidurals, mechanical ventilator use, anesthetic machine maintenance and point of care automated medication dispensing system (Omnicell).

Cardiology Students will have the opportunity to observe echocardiography procedures and review radiographic images. Students will be able to practice animal handling skills, doppler blood pressure techniques, phlebotomy, normal and abnormal cardiac auscultations, as well as surgical assisting, as applicable. Students will also be able to experience veterinary student rounds to further their knowledge of cardiac diseases.

Clinical Pathology Students will have the opportunity to analyze bloodwork, fecal samples, and urinalysis sample from a variety of species. Students may have the opportunity to review slides of blood and parasites under the guidance of our highly trained medical technologists and clinical pathologists.

Community PracticeThe veterinary technician's responsibilities include duties similar to small animal general practice, such as client communication, patient scheduling, record keeping, assist veterinarian with case management, and office duties to keep the service running smoothly. Students will assist with sick visits, dentistry, elective surgical procedures, and dermatology. Student opportunities may include patient restraint, venipuncture, sample collection and analysis, local regional anesthetic blocks, catheter placement, and many more.

Emergency TriageStudents will learn how to triage all incoming emergencies from simple to serious conditions. A multitude of hands-on opportunities to learn routine and advanced skills may be available including but not limited to blood pressures, TPR, IV catheters, wound care, fluid therapies, CPR, medication administrations and more.

EquineStudents may observe a variety of surgical procedures, endoscopic, radiographic and ultrasound procedures, dentistry, and ophthalmic examinations. Students will have the opportunity to assist with anesthesia monitoring, lameness exams, foal care, sample collections, fluid therapy and a variety of individualized treatments.

Food Animal/TheriogenologyStudents may experience a variety of species including bovine, porcine, caprine, ovine and camelids. Students will observe routine herd work, sample collection(s), catheter placement and ambulatory calls. Some theriogenology duties include large animal breeding soundness exams, pregnancy exams and canine reproduction. Depending on the season and schedule, the student may have the opportunity to stay in clinics or participate in farm calls.

ICU Students working alongside the veterinary technicians in ICU will learn how to provide excellent and dedicated patient care to cats and dogs. Critical patients come from specialties throughout the hospital and require skill and knowledge from the caregivers. Students will learn how to perform hourly treatments using a veterinary software platform (INSTINCT), take vitals while performing TPRs, administer medications via different routes, utilize advanced monitoring equipment such as blood pressure monitoring, ECGs, oxygen supplementation, different types of fluid pumps and more. Students will have the opportunity to observe, learn and assist with different clinical procedures such as venous and arterial catheter placement, urinary catheter placements, collection of blood samples, and more. 

Internal Medicine Students will have opportunities to participate in diagnostics of complicated disease processes as well as observation of a variety of endoscopic procedures. Students may observe and assist with venipuncture, cystocentesis, feeding tube placements, urinary catheter placement, endoscopic biopsy collections, bone marrow aspirates and core biopsies, joint taps, doppler blood pressure measurement and sample submissions.

Oncology Students will be able to experience the many facets of cancer therapy offered at MU. Cancer treatments range from chemotherapy, electrochemotherapy, clinical trials, immunotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Students will be able to observe and assist with initial cancer diagnostics and treatments. Students will enjoy the opportunity to learn about many different treatment protocols currently available as well as cutting edge treatments that are in development through our clinical trials program. Clinical trials have the potential to benefit both our four-legged family members as well as their human counterparts.

Shelter Medicine Students will benefit from assisting with spays, castrations, dentals, wellness exams and vaccinations of shelter animals. MU is proud to also offer a mobile unit that travels to other areas of the state to provide these services. Please note, this section is not located within the VHC. Students will be responsible for traveling to the facility located in Columbia.

Small Animal Surgery Students may have the opportunity to observe a wide variety of surgical interventions including orthopedics, soft tissue surgery and neurology. Students will be able to practice bandage changes, wound care in the post-op setting, sterile patient prep, sterile scrub techniques, sterile gowning and gloving, operating room circulation, as well as observing complicated, high-level surgical procedures. Students may also assist with receiving patients such as client communication, routine venipuncture and cystocentesis sample collections.

Program Coordinators:

  • Anastasia Glahn, BS, RVT, VTS - Oncology
  • Savannah Buckman, RVT, ALAT - Emergency and Critical Care
  • Joyce Guthrie, RVT - Equine


University of Missouri Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery