Giulia Specchia is a Rotating Intern at Pride Veterinary Centre in Derby. She is 6 months into her internship, having covered six disciplines to date.
IVC Evidensia Internships are key to the ongoing training of veterinary professionals, who will often become the specialists of tomorrow. As a Rotating Intern, Giulia is an established veterinary professional who has chosen to develop her skills, experience and knowledge further by working under supervision in a multi-disciplinary referral hospital.
We catch up with Giulia who explains her personal journey and the benefits of our rotating internship programme.
What is a rotating intern?
A Rotating Intern is a qualified veterinary surgeon who works in a referral hospital and alternates between the main departments. In Pride Veterinary Centre’s case, the rotations include Internal Medicine, Surgery, Neurology, Anaesthesia, Ophthalmology, Imaging and Oncology. Cardiology and Exotics can be included based on the Intern’s own interest.
In most cases, a rotating intern will have gained experience in first opinion practice prior to starting the internship. Practices offering a rotating internship programme usually require the aspiring intern to have worked in first opinion for at least a year, to give them experience of veterinary practice prior to working within a hospital environment.
Why did you chose to do a rotating internship at Pride Veterinary Centre?
When I first graduated in Italy I moved to the UK and worked in a first opinion practice in Nottingham for a year. During this time, I often dealt with Pride Veterinary Centre, and this was always a satisfying experience. I then moved back to Italy and worked in a practice that would mainly be classified as first opinion, but where I had the chance to work alongside a few veterinary specialists as well. I was happy with the level of care I was offering, but often felt that I could have done more if I had the right training. After a year in Italy, I finally decided that I wanted to pursue a specialist career and found a position as rotating intern at Pride Veterinary Centre.
I knew the team was great from firsthand experience as well as from word of mouth, so the choice to accept the position was one of the easiest I ever had to make. Pride Veterinary Centre offers an amazing potential to learn and grow professionally thanks to the large number of cases that are referred daily and to the recognised clinicians who work here, so I never once regretted my decision.
What are the benefits of joining the rotating internship programme?
A rotating internship represents the first step for almost everyone who seeks to gain a specialist qualification, whatever their final interest might be. Thanks to the different rotations, by the end of the internship you will have gained a very good grasp of all the main referral disciplines offered by the hospital. This is often required by most European Colleges as part of the qualifications a vet needs to have when applying to their Residency programmes – the most important step towards specialisation.
Rotating internships can be very helpful for vets who are looking to work in first opinion as well, as they will need to have a very wide and extensive knowledge of veterinary medicine to offer the best possible first-line care to their patients.
How long is a rotating internship?
Most rotating internships last 12 months. This is true for Pride Veterinary Centre’s programme as well. Some practices will offer a slightly longer internship, up to 18 months, but I think one year is usually enough to obtain a level of training one can be comfortable with.
What does a typical day of a rotating internship look like?
Each day can be very different for a Rotating Intern. Pride Veteirnary Centre’s programme is organised so that each rotation in the main disciplines will normally last three consecutive weeks, after which comes a week of rotation in the Intensive Care Unit and then a week of night shifts. The first few days of the sixth week give you a short break to recuperate from the nights, and then you are back on a new rotation.
Every time an Intern is in a certain discipline they will experience the rotation in full, having the same responsibility of a discipline-specific Intern. Every morning they will receive an update from the Night Vet on the cases hospitalised with the given discipline. They will then attend rounds with the Specialists and Residents of that discipline to discuss each patient’s progress and to organise the appointments booked for the day.
The Intern will then go on to help the specialists on their consultations, often collecting the history from the owners and performing a preliminary examination of the patient. They will discuss the case with the clinician in charge to form a plan of the required investigations based on the differential diagnoses. The Intern will work alongside the nursing team to collect blood samples, measure blood pressure, monitor sedations during imaging procedures such as radiographs and ultrasounds, and assist the Specialists during more invasive procedures such as endoscopies or surgeries.
Though it will normally be the Specialist discussing the findings, diagnosis and prognosis with the owner as well as offering further investigations where necessary, it is often the Intern’s responsibility to update the owner of their pet’s progress in the hospital and of the plans for the day, as well as to discharge the patient when it is ready to go home.
Every client (the referring veterinary surgeon) and owner will receive a detailed letter explaining the history, clinical examination and investigations findings, final diagnosis, prognosis and advised treatment protocol. If an Intern has helped with the case they will often participate in drafting this letter as well. This is a very important part of the Intern’s experience as it gives the chance of further reflecting on the case, reading up on the current literature, and learning how to best express the reasoning behind each choice.
The end of an Intern’s day normally entails taking part of evening rounds to catch up on each patient assessed during the day and to have a plan for their hospitalisation overnight. The Intern will then write this plan down and explain it to the Night Vet before leaving for home.
If an Intern is lucky they will have the chance to engage in research and have an article published under their names during their internship, though this is not a specific requirement of the position.
ICU and night rotations are slightly different and very useful in gaining experience in dealing with emergency and critical care patients.
What is your long-term goal?
My passion and dream are to specialise in Internal Medicine. When I finish my rotating internship I plan to apply for a discipline-specific internship, which will help me build my knowledge and confidence in dealing with internal medicine cases. In a couple of years’ time I hope to have the chance of joining a three-year residency programme with the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ECVIM) and fulfil my dream.