Skip to main content

Hands-on experience prepares students for clinical practice

BE THE MODEL STRATEGIC PLAN: Advancing Education and Student Success


When Matt Stonecypher, DVM ’00, and Tina Stonecypher, DVM ’00, were Ohio State veterinary students, they would have jumped at the chance to gain clinical experience at a small animal practice. The past two summers, the couple was able to provide that experience for the four students they hosted through the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Stanton Summer Externship program at their Xenia, Ohio-based Docton Animal Clinic. “The students are experiencing what we did in our first month of real practice, only well before they go into real practice,” says Dr. Tina Stonecypher.


The Stanton Summer Externship Program, made possible through a generous donation by the Stanton Foundation, enables 16 students between their first and second years of the DVM program to participate in a ten-week program that includes shadowing general practice veterinarians in busy small animal practices. Admission is competitive. In addition to the hands-on experience of caring for dogs and other small animals by providing a spectrum of care, students learn how to help clientele from a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds.


“It’s an art,” says Todd Shockey, DVM ’00, “learning how to think critically and solve problems with the resources you have to help patients. It’s not always perfect, but we do what we can to help—and there’s always a way to help.” Dr. Shockey hosted students for the first time this past summer at Parkersburg Veterinary Hospital, an eight-doctor small animal clinic in Parkersburg, West Virginia.


From spaying cats to dealing with skin cases, lacerations, broken bones and more, Stanton Summer Externship students saw a wide variety of cases. “The students had a great day when we had a 110-pound Swiss mountain dog giving birth to a dozen puppies,” recalls Dr. Matt Stonecypher. “It was good for them to see early on what they’re hoping to be doing in their careers.”


In addition to the exciting moments of catching puppies, that also meant familiarizing the students with the daily ‘grind’ of a busy practice. “I always try to be as transparent with them as I can,” says Dr. Shockey. “I tell them, ‘the air conditioning went out, so-and-so didn’t show up for work, I’m late for a surgery and I have to teach you guys as well. But that’s life and reality and you have to learn to juggle all that stuff.’”


Students and externship hosts alike enjoyed the experience. “It’s important to me to see students come out confident in what they do—that’s why the Stanton program intrigued me,” says Dr. Matt Stonecypher. “And my staff really bonds with the students. It’s fun to see those interactions.”

The Stanton Summer Externs spend several weeks in practices like the Docton Animal Clinic.


Stanton Summer Externship students shared the same enthusiasm about the experience:

Marshall Aanestad (right)

DVM Candidate, Class of 2020

Externship site: Proctorville Animal Clinic, Proctorville, Ohio

“My dad was a general practitioner in a small town and I plan on doing the same thing. I was drawn to the Stanton externship by that, and by the fact that we’re able to do surgery so early in our education. I got to do 16 spays and neuters on my own and also was able to help out with specialized surgeries including orthopedic surgeries. The nice thing about this clinic is that they help a lot of people who can’t afford referrals to other places, so they are where the buck stops. And they’re willing to do just about anything for their clients.”


Richard Algarin (left)

DVM Candidate, Class of 2020

Externship site: Proctorville Animal Clinic, Proctorville, Ohio

“Being able to get hands-on surgical experience was so rewarding. Now I’m in my third year going through surgery class, and I’m teaching other students what I learned through Stanton. It gave me so much confidence in myself and my abilities. And coming originally from Staten Island, New York, going to Proctorville was a whole new experience aside from the veterinary medicine aspect. It was a cultural experience as well as a learning experience.”


Andrea Bessler

DVM Candidate, Class of 2021
Externship site: Ashland Animal Clinic, Ashland, Kentucky
“If you’re in an economically challenged area, veterinary care can be seen as a luxury or inaccessible. Veterinary medicine has to be different in terms of practice and brings about different challenges as far as diagnostic and technical skills. At Ohio State, we’re learning the gold standard of medicine, but most people won’t be able to practice that way exclusively because clients have financial constraints. The Stanton program provided a more realistic way of seeing real-world veterinary medicine.”





The College of Veterinary Medicine's Be the Model Strategic Plan outlines the college's ambition to Be the Model comprehensive college of veterinary medicine in the world. Our focusing on providing students with hands-on experience as soon as possible in their education is one example of how we are advancing education and student success. Learn more about the strategic plan and other advances at the college.


Last updated: 

Monday, January 14, 2019 - 10:08am