Medicine and Surgery Internships

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Applications for this program are only accepted online through the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC) sponsored Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program (VIRMP).  All program information, application, and rank forms are available through the VIRMP web-based system. Applications should NOT be sent directly to the University of Tennessee.

The small animal rotating internship program at the University of Tennessee is designed to provide advanced educational opportunities in a variety of specialty services under the supervision of board-certified clinicians who are leaders in their areas of specialty.  This is a well-established internship program that prides itself on collegiality and mentorship. Our program is seeking motivated individuals that are enthusiastic about expanding their clinical knowledge while providing education to clinical veterinary students. Clinical rotations will allow interns to strengthen their diagnostic, therapeutic, communication and teaching skills. Our hospital evaluates more than 17,000 small animal cases per year, offering a diverse mix of walk-in and complex referral cases.


Due to funding limitations involved with work Visas, this position is open ONLY to the following applicants:

  • Those that do not require a VISA to work in the United States
  • Those eligible for a Mexican or Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker (TN) VISA

Internship Objectives

The following are overall goals of the internship program.

  1. Provide advanced training and skills in the diagnosis and treatment of disease in small animals.
  2. Provide opportunities for teaching in a one-on-one or group setting.
  3. Prepare interns for a residency program, specialty internship, or for entry into a high-quality small animal veterinary practice.

By the completion of the internship, the intern is expected to have accomplished the following:

  1. Perform an accurate, comprehensive assessment of patients.
  2. Create an initial diagnostic and treatment plan for an ill patient with an unknown    condition and refine this plan based on results of diagnostic tests.
  3. Prioritize diagnostic and therapeutic plans based on client resources and/or patient status.
  4. Maintain accurate and timely medical records.
  5. Communicate effectively and professionally with medical team members, clients, and the referral community.
  6. Perform diagnostic and minor surgical procedures.
  7. Provide educational opportunities to students including case discussions and inclusion in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Clinical Program

The internship is comprised of a 54-week intensive clinical program with varying degrees of primary case management under the supervision of experienced faculty members and residents in training. Required core rotations include emergency and critical care (20-22 weeks), internal medicine (10-12 weeks), orthopedic surgery and soft tissue surgery (4 weeks), anesthesia (2 weeks), community practice (2 weeks), and neurology (2 weeks). The remainder of the program will consist of electives or additional core rotations. Interns will have the opportunity to choose from electives in ophthalmology, radiology, cardiology, oncology, dermatology, exotics, dentistry, and nutrition. The exact number of weeks spent on rotations will vary to allow interns with a particular interest in a specialty more time on that rotation when possible. Interns seeking specialty internships or residencies in a particular field of interest are scheduled on those rotations early in the internship when possible. In general, external rotations are not permitted. Interns receive 10 days of vacation as well as a few days off over the winter holiday.

Emergency and Critical Care Experience

The Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) Service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and sees a large, diverse caseload consisting of walk-in emergencies and complex referral cases. The after-hours emergency service sees small animal, exotics and wildlife patients. Interns are responsible for primary receiving of cases during day, evening, overnight and weekend shifts with ECC resident and faculty on-site or on-call support. The intern will also be expected to help with critical cases in the small animal intensive care unit. Three to four interns are assigned to the ECC service per 2 week rotation. A minimum of 2 clinicians (typically an intern and a resident) are scheduled on the emergency service until midnight. Additionally, faculty provide on-site coverage 7 days per week during daytime and evening hours.


Each intern will be assigned a mentor who will provide guidance and will serve as a liaison throughout the program. The intern’s faculty mentor will be assigned by the internship committee at the beginning of the training program.

Mentors will assist the intern in setting and keeping to timetables for completion of the internship requirements. The mentor will assist in preparation of required hospital seminars. The mentor will be kept advised of the intern’s progress through receipt of rotation evaluations and will also participate in the quarterly program progress evaluations. The mentor may also serve as a source of advice and guidance for career decisions (particularly for those interns interested in pursuing advanced training in a clinical specialty).

Intern Responsibilities

Interns will rotate through various clinical services on a 2-week basis. Responsibilities include diagnosis and treatment of patients, communication with clients and referring veterinarians, participation in the clinical teaching and evaluation of veterinary students, and participation in the intern and resident seminars series. 

Interns are required to

  1. Participate in the admission, care, and monitoring of patients on the intern’s assigned service.
  2. Perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures as necessary for the management of clinical cases.
  3. Attend all appropriate rounds, seminars, and other activities as scheduled by the assigned service.
  4. Provide active instruction of students and inclusion in case management.
  5. Participate in timely evaluation of clinical veterinary students.
  6. Communicate with owners and referring veterinarians in a timely and professional manner, provide appropriate follow-up information via documented verbal and/or written correspondence, and complete medical records promptly.
  7. Present two 20-25-minute seminars to an audience of faculty, house officers, and students.

Intern Evaluations

Interns will receive electronic evaluations after each rotation. Interns will also meet quarterly with the Intern Committee to review all evaluations and discuss overall progress in the internship program. In addition to these formal reviews, the intern is encouraged to meet with their faculty mentor regularly to discuss their progress and accomplishments during the internship

Certificate of Internship

A certificate of successful internship completion will be awarded at the end of the internship assuming all requirements of the program are met.

Internship Certificate Requirements

  1. The intern must complete all clinical rotations and scheduled emergency duties.
  2. The intern must complete all medical records and referral letters.
  3. The intern must demonstrate competency in medical and surgical skills judged appropriate for an intern’s level of professional development.
  4. The intern must attend all seminars, rounds, and scheduled meetings specific to the service the intern is currently assigned to and specific to the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.
  5. Each intern must present two 20-25 minute seminars in the Friday Morning Faculty Rounds Series. 
  6. The intern must participate in the teaching and evaluation of clinical veterinary students.
  7. The intern must participate in evaluation of the internship program. This evaluation typically takes place in person during the last week of the internship (exit interview).
  8. The intern must be present and complete the final exit requirements checklist and submit this document to the Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department Office on the last day of the internship (June 30).

Intern Selection

All COMPLETED applications submitted through VIRMP by the deadline will be reviewed for acceptance. Candidates with a well-rounded application will be given highest priority. Factors favoring selection of the applicant include: 1) strong letters of recommendation that indicate superior clinical and communication skills, 2) a strong academic record, and 3) a diverse record of activities including any of the following: good leadership/teaching experience, strong interpersonal skills, and/or research experience. All candidates, regardless of future goals, will be given consideration (priority is not given to those seeking residencies). If a candidate perceives a weakness in her/his application, this should be explained in the letter of intent. Interviews are not required or available for these positions.


The University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center is located on the college campus in Knoxville, TN, along the Tennessee River. Knoxville is less than an hour from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Knoxville offers numerous opportunities to experience cultural events, live music, shopping and restaurants all with an affordable cost of living. It also offers a wide array of outdoor recreational activities including hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and extensive road and mountain biking opportunities. Knoxville is within a day’s driving distance from two-thirds of the population of the United States with Chattanooga, Nashville, Atlanta, Asheville and Cincinnati being some of the many nearby destinations.

Information about the University of Tennessee is available at: Specific information about the College of Veterinary Medicine is also available at:

Frequently Asked Questions for the Small Animal Rotating Internship Program

These are answers to the most frequently asked questions from candidates interested in the internship at the University of Tennessee.

There are 10 rotating interns. Additionally, there is one combined zoo/rotating internship with that intern participating in several small animal rotations.

You do not need a Tennessee Veterinary License if you practice at the University of Tennessee.

Required rotations include emergency and critical care service (20-22 weeks), internal medicine (10-12 weeks), orthopedic surgery and soft tissue surgery (4 weeks), anesthesia (2 weeks), community practice (2 weeks), and neurology (2 weeks). The remainder of the program will consist of electives or additional core rotations. Interns will have the opportunity to choose from electives in ophthalmology, radiology, cardiology, oncology, dermatology, exotics, dentistry, and nutrition.  The exact number of weeks spent on rotations will vary to allow interns with a particular interest in a specialty more time on that rotation when possible. Interns seeking specialty internships or residencies in a particular field of interest are scheduled on those rotations early in the internship when possible.

It is dependent on the discipline. For the more competitive programs, interns may match for a specialty internship first prior to matching for a residency. Overall match rate for either a specialty internship or residency is 98% for the past 5 years.


  • Collegiality among services in the hospital
  • Oversight and support from faculty
  • Outstanding veterinary technicians
  • Availability of specialists from all disciplines
  • Advanced therapeutics including high-flow oxygen therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy among others
  • Diverse caseload that is large but not so much that it is overwhelming


  • Long days, especially when rotating through the emergency and critical care service
  • Medical record system is a mix of paper and electronic which creates some inefficiency

Interns have a total of 10 working days of vacation. Additionally, interns are given several days of additional time off over the winter holidays.

Interns are allowed to attend conferences.  However, there is no University financial assistance with travel or registration for meetings.

If the intern is presenting at a conference, this time will not be counted as vacation.  However, if not presenting, that time will be considered vacation time and subtracted from the 10 allotted days. 

Yes, but this time will be subtracted from the 10 allotted days of vacation. Permission must be obtained from the service the intern will be absent from. If scheduled for emergency duty, another intern must cover any missed shifts.

No, we do not require interviews due to the number of applicants.

After reviewing this FAQ sheet if you still have specific questions about the program, we can arrange to put you in contact with current interns. You may contact our internship program chair, Julie Schildt ( who will put you in touch with a current intern.

Interns will spend between 20-22 weeks on the emergency and critical care service. This time will be split between days, evenings, and overnights. Typically, interns work 10-12 hour days and have 1-2 days off per week. There is a resident or criticalist on service with the intern up until midnight 7 days per week. There is a criticalist on service with the intern until at least 6pm 7 days a week, and occasionally until 10pm. There is always a resident and/or criticalist on call and available to come into the hospital and assist in case management when needed.  Interns may be scheduled on a holiday ER shift when on other rotations.

Virtually every service in the hospital provides a resident and/or faculty member for intern back-up every night. The intern can call this individual for advice regarding any case. In situations where interns feel overwhelmed on overnight shifts, interns can request that the emergency and critical care on-call clinician come in to assist in the management of cases. Medicine and surgery clinicians will come in after-hours for emergency endoscopy and surgical cases, respectively.

Yes. All interns must complete the core rotations (emergency and critical care, internal medicine, orthopedic/soft tissue surgery, anesthesia, community practice, and neurology).  Interns will be given a choice of other rotations they would like to complete based on clinical interest. Every attempt is made to enable interns to spend as much time as possible in their areas of interest. The exact number of weeks will vary depending on the number of requests of individual rotations from the intern class. For interns interested in pursuing residencies, every attempt is made to schedule interns on the rotation of interest early in the residency (prior to match deadline).  

There are opportunities for didactic/structured learning most days of the week. On Monday mornings, there is a hospital-wide resident board review from 8-9am. Lectures are organized by topic with 8-9 sessions per topic. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8-9am from June-October are emergency topic rounds specifically designed for intern training. Many clinical services also hold Journal Club on Tuesday mornings. Friday morning Faculty Rounds consist of house officers and faculty presenting various topics from 8-9am.

Each intern is required to present two 20-25-minute presentations during Friday morning Faculty Rounds. Interns are constantly involved in student teaching when on the hospital floor. Additional teaching opportunities may be provided during structured rounds on individual rotations.

This varies from service to service. Interns have primary case responsibility when they are on the internal medicine, emergency, and community practice rotations. On other rotations, the amount of primary case responsibility varies depending on caseload, number of residents, and the individual intern’s level of experience/comfort. Even without primary case responsibilities, interns are encouraged to engage in all activities of the service and play an active role in learning. 

Although research and publications are not a required component of the internship, faculty members are available to help interested interns complete research projects and publications.

Contact Information

Julie Christine Schildt Profile Page
Julie Christine Schildt
Clinical Associate Professor, Small Animal

Chair Small Animal Internship Committee
Small Animal Clinical Sciences
C247 College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4544