Wildlife Medicine and Surgery Externship

PAWS Wildlife Center is currently accepting applications for three to four-week rotations in wildlife rehabilitation medicine. Externships are offered only for veterinary students in the final, clinical year of the professional veterinary curriculum. Externships are available only from April 1 through August 31 every year.

We receive approximately 3,000 wild animals each year at our wildlife rehabilitation center and hospital, representing more than 160 different species of native wildlife, including large carnivores, raptors, marine species and urban wildlife. The hospital facilities include a well-equipped surgery and radiology, a small laboratory and library.

The veterinary student extern will work closely with the staff veterinarians, veterinary technician and the animal care staff. This program encompasses all aspects of wildlife rehabilitation from intake to release including: handling and restraint, nutrition, gavage feeding and diet preparation, husbandry, critical care, surgery, anesthesia, lab work, diagnostics and release criteria.

The extern will receive hands-on experience in physical examinations, radiographic technique and interpretation, surgical and anesthesia assisting, diagnosis and treatment of many different species. Externs will be able to perform minor veterinary procedures under the supervision of the staff veterinarians and assist with routine animal care.

Applications are accepted anytime; however, as available externship blocks fill about two years in advance the ideal time to apply is during the spring semester of the second year (in North American veterinary programs). Transcripts in a complete application package must reflect successful completion of at least three semesters of the professional veterinary curriculum. Applications are typically reviewed in August and September; successful applicants are generally scheduled during September at the beginning of their third year.

Openings due to cancellations or other causes are filled from a wait list of qualified applicants with a complete application on file.

Desired applicant qualifications

  • Veterinary student enrolled in the final clinical year of the professional curriculum of veterinary school (fourth year in US and Canadian veterinary colleges, or fifth/sixth year in many international veterinary programs).
  • Ability to lift 40 pounds.
  • Ability to follow hospital protocol and maintain accurate records.
  • Ability to work well with staff, volunteers and public.
  • Prior experience or strong interest in working with wildlife.
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English language and medical terminology.

Terms of externship

  • A three to four-week commitment is required. A five-day work week is expected, with some evenings included.
  • Students must provide their own transportation.
  • Students must arrange for their own housing.

Application instructions

Complete the online application and mail it in with:

  • Your curriculum vitae or resume.
  • Veterinary school transcripts (copies are acceptable).
  • A letter of intent describing your career goals and reasons for wanting to participate in the Wildlife Medicine and Surgery Externship program at PAWS.
  • Three letters of reference.

Email application materials to:



Mail application materials to:

Attn: Dr. John Huckabee
PO Box 1037
Lynnwood, WA 98046.

For questions or more information email Dr. John Huckabee at jhuckabee@paws.org