Veterinary Externship Descriptions

OHSU/ONPRC offers students of Veterinary Medicine a variety of elective experiences that can be tailored to suit the needs of the individual student. In this year-round program, students can build their own program consisting of 2-week increments in a specific location. Students may elect to continue with a specific mentor for up to 8 weeks, or longer by special arrangement. Opportunities for electives include:


(1)  OHSU/Marquam Hill – Department of Comparative Medicine

The Department of Comparative Medicine (DCM) provides the animal resources for the OHSU Main Campus. To support animal research activities, the DCM presently provides over 90,000 square feet of animal space, three veterinarians and 50 employees. Species housed include rodents, frogs, fish, pigs and sheep.


Veterinary medical students will participate (hands on) in daily experimental surgeries, post surgical care, physical exams, treatments, preventive medicine, biological sampling, handling and euthanasia of multiple laboratory animal species.


At the completion of the rotation, veterinary students will be familiar with the husbandry, medicine and surgery of common laboratory animal species. The experience gained will also benefit veterinary students who wish to pursue careers in private practice working with pocket pets, companion animals and large animals


(2)  OHSU/Oregon National Primate Research Center

Clinical Medicine: Colony Veterinary Services Unit (CVSU) and Research Veterinary Services Unit (RVSU)

Preceptors assume responsibility for their own cases in the Clinical Medicine Unit at ONPRC. Students will work with either CVSU or RVSU veterinarians and technicians. In the CVSU students will  assess and treat IV fluid therapy and wound management cases as well as have the opportunity for critical care case management. In the RVSU students will evaluate animals assigned to research projects and learn how the veterinary and scientific personnel interface to provide excellent animal care in pursuit of scientific goals. As a preceptor, you will perfect your non-human primate physical exam skills, develop your own treatment plans and practice venipuncture, catheter placement, triage of wounds and wound management. You can greatly improve your suturing capabilities and bandaging techniques. ONPRC has radiology and ultrasound capabilities; you can participate in taking and reading radiographs as well as ultrasound for pregnancy or abdominal abnormalities. 


During the summer and fall there are corral round-ups in which the outdoor housed animals receive annual physicals and blood is drawn for various reasons. This offers a great opportunity to do possibly hundreds of physicals and also assist in blood draws.



The ONPRC Pathology offers exposure to post-mortem examinations of nonhuman primates (NHP) in support of research protocols and diagnostics. We have extensive archives of microscopic material from NHP including teaching sets covering normal NHP histology and disease entities. Additionally, we have 6 to 8 hours of prepared didactic/lecture material covering the Diseases of Laboratory Primates and the Gross Morbid Anatomy of Nonhuman Primates. During the academic year, we review the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Wednesday Conference Slides one morning a week. Both pathologists have double headed microscopes for one-on-one review of microscopic material. Additionally, Dr. Lewis has a digital photomicrography camera set up for review of slides on a monitor in real time. 



Medical treatment options for humans and animals begin at the level of basic science, where scientists work to further our understanding of the physiologic mechanisms that underlie wellness and disease. In the research elective, you may choose to work with a scientist pursuing one of the following fields of research: anesthesiology, neuroscience, reproductive science, virology.


The Department of Anesthesiology Option (OHSU/OGI) features the following activities:

  • Behavioral assessments for sensorimotor and cognitive function in mice
  • In vitro stroke models such as oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) in neuronal and astrocytic cell cultures
  • Rodent models of stroke and cardiac arrest
  • Molecular biology techniques – qPCR, immunoblotting
  • Genetically engineered mouse breeding husbandry, tail tattooing, genotyping
  • Surgeries (rodent handling, rodent anesthesia and perioperative care, mouse and rat gonadectomies, hormone implantations, femoral catheter placement, blood collection, injections, perioperative monitoring)
  • Opportunities to observe human surgeries
  • Animal welfare (regulations and guidelines dictating use of animals in research)
  • Research projects
  • Weekly lab research conference
  • Monthly journal club


The Neuroscience Option (OHSU/ONPRC) features:

  • in vitro and in vivo strategies for understanding physiological functions of the nervous system
  • sophisticated molecular, cellular, and genetic techniques (including generation of animals carrying new genes or lacking a specific gene and the use of viruses for gene therapy of the nervous system)
  • imaging procedures
  • research programs aimed at unraveling the molecular mechanisms of human     neurological diseases
  • weekly research meetings
  • Note: Minimum rotation of 8 weeks required.


The Reproductive Science Option (OHSU/ONPRC) features:

  • behavioral observation and testing of monkeys, including infants
  • monkey protocols, including surgeries (follicle aspiration, embryo transfer, fetal and oviductal catheterization, ovariectomy, lutectomy, hysterectomy) and ultrasonography
  • hormone and growth factor assays
  • cellular and molecular techniques, including in vitro fertilization, gamete, embryo and stem cell manipulation and culture, gene microarray analyses, quantitative PCR, in situ hybridization, western blotting, immunocytochemistry
  • weekly research meetings and journal clubs
  • Note: Minimum rotation of 8 weeks required.


The Virology/Immunology Option (OHSU/ONPRC) features:

  • participation in ongoing studies of the pathogenesis and immunity of SIV, herpes family viruses, and other agents
  • use of state-of-the-art virologic and immunologic technologies
  • application of genomic and proteomic techniques to virologic and immunologic investigation
  • vaccine development
  • research conferences
  • Note: Minimum rotation of 8 weeks required.