VMBS, TVMA Sponsor Seventh Annual Veterinary Job & Externship Fair

Story by Rachel Knight '18

Students talk to a practice representative at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ 2022 Veterinary Job & Externship Fair.

The Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (VMBS) 2022 Veterinary Job & Externship Fair ushered in a new era of networking for both employers and potential employees alike. The fair expanded to include spots for 170 veterinary practices, as opposed to about 130 in previous years, and saw the addition of a new continuing education event for practice representatives.

From its ambitious start in 2016, the event has been a successful partnership between the VMBS and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA). In addition to expanding the number of practices at the event and adding new programming for practice representatives, the 2022 updates to the event included reorganization of practice booths and additional preparation opportunities ahead of the event for employers.

Dr. Jodi Long ‘01, TVMA president-elect, said the event provides valuable opportunities for all parties.

“It’s a great networking opportunity,” Long explained. “It helps us bring value to our TVMA membership, and we get to continue our wonderful relationship with the school and the students.”

One first-year veterinary student echoed Long’s enthusiasm for the networking aspect of the event.

“Going into the job fair, I was very nervous and was worried about what I would say or how I would talk to the clinics that were there. After talking with all the amazing people that were present, I was most surprised at how much I enjoyed every minute of the Job & Externship Fair,” the student shared. “Attending this was one of the most fun and informative learning experiences I have had. I was able to not only talk with a multitude of clinics but was able to apply the knowledge and communication skills I had learned thus far in PCS (Professional & Clinical Skills classes) during my conversations. I very much enjoyed this opportunity and cannot wait to do it again next year.”

The goal of the Job & Externship Fair has always been to create an even playing field for practices of all sizes and structure. In order to assure this, and to allow as many practices as possible exposure to students, businesses with more than one practice site are assigned only one booth. This year booths were placed in alphabetical order to create equal exposure for all booths. In previous years, booths were arranged by region.

Dr. Samantha Rapoli ‘22, who previously attended the fair as a veterinary student, returned this year as a representative with the EaDo Veterinary Clinic. She agreed that the new layout benefits employers and students.

“I remember attending the event with the regional layout as a student,” Rapoli recalled. “This layout encourages students to focus on the practice and what that practice can offer instead of its location; the alphabetical layout gives people the opportunity to kind of float by everybody, regardless of where you’re located regionally in the state.”

Practice representatives who participated in the event also had the opportunity to gain valuable insights about their field and their recruiting competitors within it by attending a continuing education presentation hosted by the VMBS Office of Continuing Education. Dr. Karen Cornell, associate dean for the Office of Professional Programs, shared insights on the VMBS DVM classes and recent graduate data, while Bridgette Bain, Ph.D., senior economist at the American Veterinary Medical Association, shared information on the economic state of veterinary medicine.

Dr. Mark ‘87 and Karen ‘89 Stanfill, owners of Animal Hospital of Ovilla, attended both the fair and the CE event; they said the information presented was of great value and a welcome addition.

“We came last year as Texas Group One, which is a group of 10 practices that are independent owners,” the Stanfills explained. “We decided that it was such a good experience last year that we wanted to have our own booth and so we joined it that way and it’s been good. It’s been really good.

“It’s always good to have an update on what kinds of things the students are being offered from corporate and individual practices,” they said.

Cornell’s presentation also included economic and first-year-post-graduation salary statistics, updates to VMBS curriculum, and information about what to expect from students during the fair.

Dr. Diane deBruyn ‘92, who attended the fair as a representative of Mission Veterinary Hospital, said she’s already seeing the benefits of the curriculum updates Cornell presented.

“I had no idea that the curriculum had changed, so Dr. Cornell’s presentation was really interesting to me. I’m really encouraged about that,” deBruyn said. “I’m excited to see what happens with the new curriculum. We have had an extern this summer who’s a second-year student. I felt like she was good with communication and things, so I think I’m seeing it and I just didn’t realize it.”

The fair also included a virtual component that allowed practices attending the fair in College Station to connect virtually with 2+2 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students at the Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach (VERO) campus in Canyon. This element of the event also received improvements, including the implementation of smaller student-to-practice representative ratios.

Abby Cordell, who attended the fair representing Salt Creek Veterinary Hospital both in 2021 and in 2022, visited with a number of VERO students as part of the virtual component of the fair in both years and confirmed that the smaller ratios in the Zoom calls were beneficial.

“I had a smaller section, which was a lot easier,” Cordell shared. “Last year, I ran out of time because I did a lot of the talking and then they asked a couple questions. This year they were very engaged in asking questions and wanting to know more about the clinic and the practice.”

The improved interactions with VERO students left Cordell excited about hosting more students at her clinic in the future.

“This morning actually, I met with a VERO student who had been to our practice and shadowed,” Cordell said. “She lives in one of the towns where we have a clinic, so she had already shadowed us and that was pretty neat to get to talk to her; she’s wanting to come back. The VERO students are very interested in mixed animal medicine, so it helps us because we need more mixed animal veterinarians. When you’re in a rural community, you can’t just do small animal and survive, so it helps with that need, when rural students get that mixed animal experience.”

BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital medical director Dr. Brooke Clark ‘01 also said that students benefit from seeing real-world opportunities.

“When students secure externships through this event, they get to see the flow and culture of the clinic, and everybody wins,” Clark explained. “Being a veterinarian is limitless, literally limitless with how many opportunities you have. Just walking around at this event, you can see how many different opportunities this field offers.”

Students at the event recognized the real-world opportunities the practices offer as one of the Aggie core values–selfless service. One second-year veterinary student said they were surprised by the veterinary community’s willingness to lend a hand and help one another.

“All the practices I talked to were so kind and gracious enough to offer me an opportunity to visit their clinic and learn from them,” the student said. “It makes me tremendously proud to become an Aggie veterinarian and help my fellow colleagues in the future as well.”

Preparations for the 2023 Veterinary Job & Externship Fair, scheduled for Oct. 21, have already begun with a review of the updates and improvements implemented in 2022. Practice representatives and attendees can expect to see many of the new implementations in the 2022 fair carried into 2023.

“It’s been a good experience,” the Stanfills said, reflecting on their 2022 fair participation. “We’re looking forward to doing it again next year.”


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu, 979-862-4216

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