The Pacific Northwest Salmonid Veterinary Externship Program (PNSVEP) was created by a handful of aquatic veterinarians in Washington and Idaho to expose those veterinary students with a focused interest in aquaculture medicine to a variety of salmon and trout hatcheries, natural resource agenices, and aquatic health professionals. The program aims to offer insight into herd health management of aquatic species for production (human consumption) and/or mitigation (wildlife supplementation). The externship will provide students opportunities to assist with spawning efforts, broodstock surveillance sampling, necropsies, clinical case workups, lab test selection, development of treatment and disease management strategies, and biosecurity audits. Along the way there will be an overarching review of fish husbandry, welfare, and major pathogens that affect wild and captive coldwater finfish within the Pacific Northwest. The program endeavors to impress upon stduents the challenges politics and drug regulations pertaining to food fish (“minor species”) pose to veterinarians working within the industry. Students will visit several locations (Eagle, Idaho; Spokane, WA; Wenatchee, WA; and Olympia, WA), rotating between veterinarians and moving east to west or west to east. Species involved include Chinook, steelhead, rainbow trout, white sturgeon, coho, and kokanee.
Students will rotate among up to five natural resource organization/government agency veterinarians (representing WA Dept of Fish and Game, US Fish and Wildlife Service, a Public Utility District, and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission) who work with fish full time. Combined, the participating veterinarians have access to dozens of different aquaculture facilities and a number of affiliated laboratories.
Students are expected to accompany their veterinarian mentors on calls for the entire work week (~40 hours/week) for two weeks and offer diagnostic support (perform necropsies, collect samples, etc.) as directed. Additionally, various assignments and examinations are given to each student to help supplement their education about fish diseases.
Students will be given an open-book assignment to complete before the externship begins. This task is meant to establish a basic understanding of salmon life history, regional pathogens of concern, and the clinical evaluation of fish. It also gives the participating veterinarians an opportunity to access a student’s knowledge of salmon aquaculture upon arrival. The answers will be reviewed and discussed with a veterinarian during the student’s first week.
On the first Monday of the externship, students will be given a knowledge-based evaluation to be completed by the Thursday morning of their last week of the rotation. This final exam will consist of a series of open-ended questions relating to real-life fish health scenarios. The assignment, along with a brief open-book PowerPoint exam given on the last day of the rotation, will be evaluated and then discussed with the student, the last week’s veterinarian, and all other available veterinarians via conference call. Many of the questions are intended to be thought-provoking and can be approached correctly in a number of ways; grades will be based on reasonability of strategy and justification of answer.
Free housing and meal compensation are available at some locations. All requests for information regarding housing must be received within 30 days of the start of the rotation. Pet friendliness is at the discretion of the host and will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.