Applications Open: 2024 Summer Fellowships for Veterinary Students

Three surgeons standing over a surgery patient covered with a drape

The Opportunity

  • Do you have a deep, personal passion to change the world for shelter pets or community cats? Have you been looking for a direction for your career in animal welfare that creates immediate, positive impact?
  • Are you a self-starter who flourishes when blending teamwork, service, and hands-on learning?
  • Have you been eager to get out of the classroom and into a high-intensity training program where you can sharpen your clinical skills while caring for the animals that need you the most?

This 10-week paid summer fellowship program will provide all that and more! 

  • $5000 stipend
  • Choose between Shelter Medicine and Community Cat Management focus
  • Enrollment in Shelter Medicine courses and activities
  • One-on-one mentorship by veterinarians and staff
  • In-depth medical and surgical case exposure
  • Networking and long-lasting friendships

Students holding puppies in a shelter wearing scrubs

Fellowship Option 1: Shelter Medicine

Fellowship participants will engage in a 10-week immersive experience working in different organizations ranging spanning both rural and urban shelters and high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter clinics. Fellows will  learn how to manage a shelter population efficiently and engage in daily medical and weekly population rounds, and gain practical clinical skills managing a multitude of medical and surgical cases. They will delve into community cat management, mastering the oversight of “spay days” to maximize results, and participate in a clinic to sterilize more than 400 cats in a single day. Fellows will also spend a week at the Miami-Dade Animal Services shelter and two weeks at the Austin Pets Alive! shelter in Texas working in their ground-breaking high-volume Parvo Puppy ICU. This Fellowship combines didactic learning with real-world applications in shelter and clinic settings. Upon completing the fellowship, you will have gained life-long mentors and colleagues, career-building skills, and the confidence to explore the diverse world of Shelter Medicine. The first five weeks of the Fellowship will involve traveling to shelters within 50 miles of Gainesville, so reliable transportation is required. The second five weeks will be spent primarily out of town with travel and lodging covered by the program.

By the end of the Shelter Medicine Fellowship, Fellows will be able to . . .

  • Design evidence-based protocols for comprehensive wellness, preventive care, husbandry, biosecurity, and disease management in shelters
  • Understand how effective population management, including intake diversion, pathway planning, and minimizing length of stay, benefit shelter operations, improve outcomes, and promote One Health
  • Implement enrichment and appropriate behavioral modification treatment plans
  • Promote Fear Free principles and demonstrate safe and low-stress animal handling techniques
  • Design practical shelter-based protocols for management of canine parvovirus infection for shelter inpatient and outpatient settings
  • Demonstrate proficiency in routine dog and cat spay and neuter surgery
  • Understand the approach to pregnancy, pyometra, cryptorchidism, congenital anomalies, previous sterilization, and other common conditions encountered in shelter animals and community cats presented for sterilization
  • Cultivate a strong work ethic and collaborate effectively with many team members and stakeholders
  • Network and explore opportunities in Shelter Medicine

Woman in scrub top holding neonatal kitten

Fellowship Option 2: Community Cat Management

Fellowship participants enjoy 10 weeks of immersion in all things related to humane community cat management. Trap loan and trapping, staging HQHVSN clinics, and providing TNR for local and regional caregivers will become second nature. Working closely with Operation Catnip staff and volunteers, you will learn the intricacies of trapping cats – even those elusive kitties – and dealing with all manner of caregivers. You will learn how to set up and organize a HQHVSN clinic utilizing one skilled veterinarian caring for over 40 cats. You will manage trap inventory and various constituents utilizing several specialized software programs to keep it all nice and tidy. You will collaborate with local animal shelters to respond to community needs and to find the best outcome for every individual cat. Interested candidates will have the opportunity to gain practical clinical skills managing a multitude of feline medical and surgical cases. Fellows will participate in weekly Shelter Medicine rounds relevant to community cat management and present a case presentation at the end of the summer. You will leave the fellowship with the confidence to take on any project in community cat management and you will have developed the skills to succeed! This is an outstanding opportunity for individuals who dream of making significant impacts in animal welfare.

Frequently asked questions

Who should apply?

The Fellowships are designed for veterinary students with an interest in animal welfare and focused on lifesaving programs for shelter animals or community cats. Fellows will build practical skills through a blend of didactic study and hands-on clinical and field training. The Fellowships are designed with students early in their veterinary school training in mind, but students of all experience levels are welcome to apply. Opportunities to perform surgery will be dependent on each student’s experience and competency. 

What is the schedule for the Fellowships?

  • The 10-week fellowship begins May 20, 2024 and runs through July 28, 2024
  • This is a fulltime position for an average of 40 hours per week (some weeks a little more, some a little less)
  • The online Shelter Medicine courses can take another 8-10 hours per week, to be completed outside of work hours

What courses and activities are included with the fellowship?

  • VEM5321 Integrating Veterinary Medicine with Shelter Systems 5/20/24-7/31/24 (required)
  • VEM5322 Shelter Medicine (aka Miami Shelter Camp) 7/8/24-7/28/24 (required)
  • Best Friends National Conference, Orlando 7/11/24-7/13/24 (required)
  • VEM5342 Community Cat Management 6/17/24-7/24/24 (required for Community Cat Fellowship)
  • Parvo ICU Camp at Austin Pets Alive! (required for Shelter Medicine Fellowship)
  • Courses are a hybrid of self-paced online and in-person activities

The ideal candidates will be . . .

  • Available for the entire 10-week duration
  • Eligible for employment in the US
  • Highly motivated to learn new skills and unafraid to work hard
  • Personable and compassionate
  • Current on pre-exposure rabies vaccination or titer
  • Licensed with a clean driving record and able to drive own vehicle for site visits
  • Able to devote 40 hours a week plus after-hours study in this pursuit
  • Creative and flexible – necessary to managing the unmanageable cat

How to apply

  • Complete the online application form, including the required essay
  • Upload current vet school transcript (unofficial okay)
  • Upload resume
  • Applications are due April 4, 2024.
  • Finalists will be contacted for an interview (in person or virtual)
  • Selections will be announced by April 15, 2024
  • Program starts May 20, 2024

More information

  • This is a rigorous full-time position with substantial time spent outdoors in the Florida summer and in accompanying online courses
  • Travel and lodging costs for the Miami Shelter Camp, Parvo ICU Camp, and Best Friends National Conference are covered by the program
  • Course and conference fees are covered by the program
  • Learn more about Shelter Medicine courses for UF veterinary students
  • Learn more about the Certificate in Shelter Medicine

Have more questions? We can help!