I had the amazing opportunity of traveling to Santiago, Chile this summer for a small animal externship at Clinica Veterinaria San Cristobal. As a third-year veterinary student, I was able to assist the veterinarians in their everyday activities. This included working on cases, treating patients, communicating with clients, and assisting with surgeries. The clinic I was at was a well-established practice that brought in a lot of specialist from all over Santiago, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, internists, and an ultrasound specialist. I worked at a total of 4 veterinary practices, each with their own unique culture.
A great aspect of working at multiple veterinary clinics was that there was always a veterinary student at the clinics. I had the opportunity of comparing our vet school experience in the US vs. theirs in Chile. Overall, they were learning less material than we were since they only spend about 2 years out of the 5 learning about veterinary medicine. The other 3 years were focused on the science basics, such as chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, etc. It was great getting to interact with people my age and learn about their veterinary journeys thus far.
One of the biggest benefits from my experience in Chile was that I became proficient working in Spanish. Between my home stay, internship, and Chilean friends, I became confident in my ability to communicate in Spanish. Additionally, I was able to travel on the weekends to various regions of Chile. I saw some of the most beautiful views and made some lifelong memories traveling to places such as the Atacama Desert, Valdivia National Forest, Villarica Volcano, a sacred forest, and the 3rd oldest tree in the world, El Gran Abuelo.
In conclusion, I had a great experience! I became more comfortable communicating in Spanish, reinforced the veterinary skills I learned in vet school, and made amazing memories.