Student Externships with Dr. Degner


Purpose of rotation

  • To teach the student techniques in veterinary surgery
  • To increase the student's knowledge base and ability to diagnose surgical diseases
  • The rotation will be tailored to the interests of the student
  • Topic rounds using PowerPoint presentations - student chooses topics of interest
  • My primary goal is to make the rotation a great learning experience that is enjoyable for the student

Qualifications for externship

  • It is desirable that the student have taken orthopedic, soft tissue and/or elective surgery rotations at a veterinary college prior to the externship in surgery with Dr. Degner
  • Rotations must be approved by your Veterinary College


When you arrive

  • Your rotation will start at 8:00 am Monday
  • Your rotation finishes officially on Sunday 11:59 pm on the last week of your rotation:
    • Outpatient appointments (Tuesdays and Thursdays) - wear dressy professional clothing, but have a set of scrubs available in the event of an emergency surgery that needs to be performed on an outpatient day
    • Surgery (Monday and Wednesday) - wear scrubs


  • Patient care
  • Outpatient
    • Appointments
      • Make sure that exam room is clean; if it is not, clean it first
      • Take laptop computer into room
      • Go to lobby and call for patient
      • Personally greet client and introduce your self,  "Hello, I'm  'students name' and I am working with Dr. Degner"
      • Take history which should include, chief complaint, when problem started, has any medication or treatments been tried for the problem, any other health issues, allergies, drug reactions, current medications that the pet is receiving; please note that we have history templates for various disease on
      • Perform physical exam
        • do a general exam, check mouth, ears, eyes, skin, lymph nodes, mammary chain, auscult chest, palpate abdomen
        • for orthopedic patients have client walk dog down hallway to identify which limb(s) is/are affected, when dog is standing check for CP deficits, palpate limbs for muscle atrophy, check joints for effusion; lay dog on side and perform orthopedic examination - if you are unfamiliar with the orthopedic exam Dr. Degner has a presentation on this topic
        • for cancer patients measure the dimensions (using a caliper) of the tumor if visible
      • Fill out physical examination data, record findings on referring veterinarian films, list problems and  differentials or diagnosis if obvious, diagnostic plan, therapeutic plan if diagnosis is established
      • DO NOT discuss your diagnosis, your recommend treatment options, or costs with the client unless approved by Dr. Degner
      • Present findings to Dr. Degner and go with him into the exam room
  • Helping technicians to prepare patients for surgery
  • Surgical assisting
    • Always try to anticipate the needs of the surgeon
  • Surgery reports (blue sheet) should be filled out on the day of surgery so that you don't forget the details of the procedure; if you have any questions about the procedure don't hesitate to ask Dr. Degner
  • Flow sheets for patients in ICU generally are filled out by the surgery technician on the day of the surgery, the student is responsible to examine patients and type SOAP's prior rounds (which usually start around 8 am)
  • Biopsy submission reports must be filled out on the day of surgery so samples can be mailed out ASAP; includes a history of the problem and findings at surgery
  • Patient releases from MVS hospital - after the client has check-out with reception staff, student must go over release orders with client, give client the pet's personal belongings, medications and referral radiographs, make sure that pet is groomed prior to release, make sure that bandages (if applicable) are in good condition
  • Reading - look at the surgery schedule the day prior and read about the procedures that will be performed


Supplies needed for Out patient and Surgery

  • Outpatient attire - men must be cleanly groomed, shaved (facial hair is fine as long as it is groomed), wear a pressed dress shirt with tie, pants can be dressy pants, shoes should be dress shoes or other professional looking; women should likewise wear appropriate professional dressy clothing and be cleanly groomed; clothing (or lack of) should not be distracting to clients.  Clean pressed lab coats and name tags from University should be worn.  Alternative to professional dressy attire is a set of clean scrubs and a pressed clean lab coat. 
  • Surgical attire:  scrubs
  • Books - suggested books include Hand book of Small Animal Orthopedics and Fracture Repair (Piermatti, Flo), Textbook of Small Animal Surgery (Slatter), Techniques in small Animal Surgery (Fossum), Small Animal Surgery (Bojrab)
  • Stethoscope, digital thermometer, bandage scissors, suture scissors, pleximeter, hemostat


Students will be graded on the following

  • Interaction with clients, staff and doctors - communication, social skills, respect for others
  • Patient care
  • Personal appearance
  • Knowledge base in surgery
  • Physical examination skills, ability to arrive at a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan
  • Technical/surgical skills
  • End of rotation final exam - for sample questions, please click EXAM QUESTIONS
    • exam counts for 15% of final grade

Michigan State University Students:  click here for Veterinary Externship VM 611 form

  • relevant information for application is listed below;
  • clip and paste information into a black word document;
  • fill in pertinent information and sign;
  • mail to me to sign


Michigan State University Students:  click here for Veterinary Externship SCS 694 form

  • relevant information for application is listed below;
  • clip and paste information into a black word document;
  • fill in pertinent information and sign;
  • mail to me to sign

Board-certification by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons

What does it mean?

  • Four years of advanced training in surgery beyond the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree

  • Experience in the development of new surgical treatments

  • Rigorous examination by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons to ensure competency in advanced surgical techniques

  • Certifies that a veterinarian is a surgical specialist

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