Training the next generation in wildlife population medicine

SCWDS is a special unit within the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and welcomes participation from junior or senior veterinary students from all accredited veterinary colleges in the form of an externship program. Our externship program is a great opportunity for veterinary students from across the nation to gain experience in wildlife disease research and service. This customizable program ranges from three to twelve weeks in length and gives veterinary students a first-hand look at how wildlife experts work hand-in-hand with private, state, and federal authorities to ensure the welfare of our nation’s wildlife resources, domestic livestock interests, and human health. Please contact Patricia Flaherty for further information.

About the program

Purpose / Objectives of the Externship

The primary purpose of the externship is to provide training for veterinary students in the many aspects of wildlife population medicine, such as:

  • The role of veterinarians in the maintenance of healthy wildlife populations
  • The interaction of wildlife management and wildlife health
  • Examples of major diseases of free-ranging wildlife

Treatment of individual wild animals for illnesses or injuries is NOT an aspect of this externship.

Externship Activities

The extern’s activities will be greatly dependent upon work in progress at SCWDS during the time of the externship. An effort will be made to expose the student to a broad variety of experiences. Students will participate in wildlife mortality investigations and ongoing wildlife disease research. When field trips are available, participation will be required. The student will be expected to respond to questions pertaining to assigned readings, lectures, and field experiences.

Externs will also be required to complete a library assignment that will consist of a referenced literature review of a current disease topic and a two- to three-page article in newsletter format that is written for a lay audience. Informal lectures and review of gross lesions of wildlife diseases are presented as time permits. The externship program is a team-teaching effort, and the extern will be assigned to various staff members during the program.


Any third- or fourth-year student in good academic standing from an accredited college of veterinary medicine is eligible to apply for the externship. However, there are only two slots available per rotation; therefore, students with the best qualifications, as demonstrated by resume and academic standing, will be chosen for a given time period.

How to apply

Externship programs should be arranged at least 8-12 months in advance of the desired starting date. Students should apply by sending:

  • A one-page letter of intent to Patricia Flaherty
  • A general resume
  • The time period(s) preferred for the externship
  • A letter sent from the academic dean at his/her college indicating approval of the externship
  • An extern registration form (if required): Some institutions have recently required that we fill out a form to officially register you as an extern. Please ask your academic dean or curriculum coordinator about this form and inform us as soon as possible if that is the case. If such form is required, we ask that you use the information on this website to fill out as much of the program description as you can, use Dr. Nemeth’s contact details where it calls for information on the program coordinator, and then send the form to Dr. Nemeth (along with your application materials) to be edited, signed and returned to your institution. We ask that you give us processing time of at least four weeks from your application deadline.
Final enrollment

Once an invitation for an externship is extended, the student must make arrangements to be enrolled in an appropriate fashion in his/her college. Students cannot participate in the SCWDS externship program during their between-term break or “free time” without special permission. A faculty member from the veterinary college of origin should be designated as responsible for the conduct of the extern. Each participant should have his/her own health insurance.

Housing and living expenses

Housing and other living costs are not provided for externs during their stay in Athens. If work assignments are made at other locations, the extern’s travel costs for housing, transportation, and food will be reimbursed as it is for other SCWDS personnel.


Some veterinary schools / colleges require that a student is evaluated during the externship. If that is the case with your school, please bring your evaluation forms and requirements with you and ensure that all forms are completed prior to the completion of the externship by meeting with the externship coordinator. Forms will not be completed after a student has departed.

Formal tests will not be given. The externship coordinator, in consultation with other SCWDS staff members, will evaluate you in the format provided by the veterinary college of origin. Strong consideration will be given to work participation, demonstration of academic capability, and on the ability of the student to project a professional image.

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