Externships / Preceptorships

The University of Missouri Comparative Medicine Program (CMP) offers externships ranging from two to twelve weeks. Activities vary with the goals of the extern, and combine clinical laboratory medicine activities and research. Externs are under the direct supervision of post-DVM trainees, clinical veterinarians, research scientists and comparative pathologists throughout the externship. Activities include the following (click on each for more details) and additional information can be found on the ASLAP web page.

Externs assist and participate in routine health care, diagnosis and designing treatment plans for a diverse group of animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, swine, rats, mice and genetically-engineered animals. Hands-on experience and opportunities are emphasized during the visit to help develop clinical skills, which can range from animal handling techniques to anesthesia and surgery in a variety of species. Externs gain experience in laboratory animal practice/facility management by observing interactions and problem solving between laboratory animal veterinarians, research staff and animal care staff. Additionally, externs participate in clinical and management meeting rounds and emergency after-hours clinical care.

Through the ACQA office, externs participate in facility inspections, animal handling training workshops, protocol review, attend Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) meetings and learn about federal regulation compliance.

Through the Mutant Mouse and Rat Resource and Research Centers, externs gain knowledge of cryobiology (e.g., embryo transfer surgeries, ICSI, plug checks), rodent colony management, national research animal resources, and genetic testing service activities (e.g., genotyping).

Externs with a strong interest in pathology participate in necropsy and histopathologic evaluation of tissues. A number of microscopic slide sets of laboratory animal diseases as well as other training materials are available for self-study. Externs may also participate in projects involving research pathology if the latter are ongoing during the externs visit. Opportunities to engage in other aspects of diagnosis of research animal diseases including microbiology, serology, clinical pathology and molecular diagnostics are also available upon special request.

  • Externs at the CMP for at least 3 weeks are will be assigned a research project, depending on project availability. The extern conducts a literature review, implements the project, analyzes data generated and gives a 20–25-minute seminar at the completion of the externship.
  • Externs can also rotate with post-DVM trainees of the CMP who are actively engaged in research projects. During these rotations, externs discuss projects and participate in laboratory procedures.

Your visit is what you make of it, and the CMP encourages externs to pursue their interests and expand their knowledge during their stay. All senior post-DVM trainees and some CMP faculty offer specialized problem-based learning discussions, hands-on laboratory workshops, and behind the scenes tours that can be arranged based on extern interest. Some examples include a rabbit handling lab, guinea pig case discussion, rodent behavior testing discussion & tour, a tour of the Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research, zebrafish husbandry & facility tour, and an assisted rodent reproductive surgery lab.

To Apply for Externships:

Applications for externships are accepted year-round, except if applying for ASLP Summer Fellowships or MU VRSP.

Please contact Dr. Samantha Gerb or submit a CV (with current veterinary school GPA), letter of interest, and one letter of reference from a CVM faculty member at your institution to:

Samantha Gerb, DVM, MS
Comparative Medicine Program Co-Director
Investigator Support Veterinarian 
(573) 882-8485
1100 E Campus Loop
Columbia, MO 65211
Email: gerbsa@missouri.edu

There are several other exciting laboratory animal medicine and research opportunities for veterinary students at the University of Missouri. These include:

Through sponsorship from the ASLAP Foundation, the University of Missouri Comparative Medicine Program offers one to three positions for 10–12 weeklong summer fellowships. Activities are similar to those performed by rotating externs and elective rotation students. ASLAP fellows also participate in MU’s Veterinary Research Scholars Program.  
See the ASLAP web page for application deadline and requirements. 

The MU VRSP is a 10-12 summer research program that exposes veterinary students to research career opportunities through a mentored research experience. Scholars perform state-of-the-art projects in a variety of disciplines, participate in a weekly topics course that gives a broad exposure to biomedical sciences, attend field trips to local and regional research institutions and social activities designed to promote community and travel to and present at the National NIH-Boehringer-Ingelheim Symposium. 

See the VRSP website for more information, including application deadlines and requirements. 

It is highly advantageous to have your own vehicle for transportation during your externship at MU. Public transportation in Columbia can be difficult due to limited and inflexible transportation routes and schedules (many routes are not running during the summer months). If you do not have your own transportation, please try to make other arrangements or schedule your visit when another extern will be here so that you can coordinate rides. You may also rent a vehicle from Enterprise or National. More information can be found here Columbia, MO Transportation & MU Campus Map.