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SeaWorld San Diego Externship Curriculum

Students will work alongside SeaWorld San Diego’s clinical veterinarians and veterinary technicians for a duration of 4 weeks assisting with active medical cases and preventative medicine. The student is expected to work at least 5 days a week (M-F) with a typical day starting at 0800 and ending around 1700. However, students are expected to be flexible in terms of availability as exam times sometimes take place outside of scheduled hours or on weekends. Participation in after-hours procedures is encouraged but not mandatory.

While on rotation, the student will have the opportunity to observe and assist in various aquatic animal medical procedures and learn the importance of a preventative medicine and animal welfare program at a zoological facility. Due to the specialization of skills required to work on our unique collection safely, our externship program primarily involves job shadowing with the purpose of introducing the student to the concepts of aquatic animal medicine. Hands-on experience and the opportunity for a student to co-manage a medical case may be obtained opportunistically as certain rescue cases are presented to us (ie. birds, mammals--mostly pinnipeds, and sea turtles), but it cannot be guaranteed.

Students may also have the opportunity to shadow our laboratory (ie. microbiology, hematology, water quality) and/or our husbandry teams (ie. marine mammal, avian, aquarium) who care for animals managed at the park. This will expose the student to proper husbandry techniques, exhibit maintenance and behavioral conditioning. Students may also be given the opportunity to assist the rescue team with medical treatments or accompany the rescue team on rescues or return trips.

Each student will be expected to give a presentation on a select topic at the end of their rotation. Oftentimes the topic is inspired by procedures or cases that are observed during the first couple of weeks on the rotation. Additionally, the student will be asked to write at least two medical SOAPS on two complicated or challenging cases that they shadowed or assisted with during their clinical rotation. When not directly involved with a case, procedure, or research, the student will be expected to assist the veterinary technicians with their daily tasks and cleaning.

Students are encouraged to participate in discussion of cases and ask questions. Veterinarians and technicians will be challenging students to apply the knowledge and skills that they have worked so hard to develop in the course of their veterinary education.