Call For U.S. Veterinary Students For Africa Rotation Internship

Clinic in South Africa offering internship to vet students.

Dr. Greg Simpson, lecturer at University of Pretoria and clinic manager at the Hluvukani Animal Health Center in South Africa, is looking for a junior or senior U.S. veterinary student to participate in a rotation internship.

Dr. Simpson’s clinic is located in a rural area near Kruger National Park in South Africa. He is a 1998 University of Pretoria graduate and would be in charge of the veterinary interns. Application deadline is July 15.

“The students are the manpower to the clinic,” Simpson says. “They are in charge of the cases and I oversee their work. We work as a team of six students and one vet. There will likely be four South African, one German and one American intern. The day starts at sunrise by visiting one of the areas’ 20 dip tanks where local farmers bring their livestock. We treat sick cattle while the animal health technicians dip the cattle for parasites. We then drive a mobile ambulance to treat animals at people's houses, before going back to the clinic to treat inpatients.  Mostly dogs are seen and we do routine sterilization as well as other operations. There are many infectious diseases prevalent in this population such as rabies, brucellosis, parvovirus, biliary, heartwater and anaplasma. We do wildlife work when we assist the local government vets working in the neighboring park.  The students learn field epidemiology by assisting with several ongoing research projects.”

Simpson says a unique aspect of the rotation is community engagement. Veterinary students lecture at local elementary and high schools on the basics of animal health and care. There is also a focus on public health and the students are involved in rabies vaccination campaigns, brucellosis vaccination and deworming projects.  Students learn about the local culture by getting Shangaan language lessons and visiting a traditional healer.

“Veterinary interns participating in the rotation would be exposed to cattle, dogs, goats, cats, donkeys and a variety of wildlife,” Simpson says. “This is a unique, once in a life time opportunity for a vet student to work in a rural community in Southern Africa where there are variety of infectious diseases and a warm group of international students. It will be challenging, but it will be worthwhile.”

The internship would begin Sept. 26 and last one month. If the student wants to stay longer, additional rotations in equine, small animal and production animal medicine, exotics or pathology can be arranged. The student would be housed with the other interns at the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Station inside Kruger National Park. The cost is $15 per night. The student would have to buy their own food and there is no stipend. According to Simpson, most nights the students cook together.

“A television series called Animal Doctor will be filmed during the interns’ rotation,” Simpson says. “The use an informal and intimate documentary style will be used to include viewers into students’ lives as they are taken from the university and put in charge of a rural clinic where great expectations are placed on their shoulders. Students play the detective, working through clues provided by the owner and the symptoms of the animal to try to get to the bottom of what ails them. The pressure mounts as they have limited diagnostic resources and the knowledge gained in the classroom at their disposal. Private funders are sponsoring the series.”

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