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Life of a Veterinary Extern at Banfield Pet Hospital

Anne Flessner is a five-time Banfield extern and soon-to-be graduate of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. We caught up with her to talk about her inspiration, her externship experience, and words of wisdom for veterinary students—not to mention her passion for horses.    

How have you stayed connected to the school since leaving the West Indies? 

Going to school at Ross University is a different experience than a state school. The friendships that I made are so much more than that; they are my family. Due to rolling admissions, many of my friends were still on the island when I started my clinical year. For the time being, this is how I keep that connection to the island. It is an experience so unique that it bonds you—as you meet other Rossie’s, you instantly have a connection. 

Moving forward, there are so many opportunities to go back to visit, including the West Indies conference. It is a continuing education conference that is hosted by RUSVM each year. Of course, it still may be a while before that is an in-person opportunity; however, I look forward to traveling again and returning to my island home to visit. 

What was your externship experience with Banfield like? 

I have done a total of five externships with Banfield and my experiences have been so rewarding. Most of my externships were at the same hospital. I started my first externship prior to starting vet school and have continued through my clinical (4th) year of vet school. I had no experience in small animal medicine prior to my first externship at Banfield, but my Banfield family help me developed the skills to make me an exceptional doctor. I have a team, a family, that cheer me on and celebrate my success.

What was so amazing about my externship experience is that no one cared that I knew nothing about small animal medicine when I stepped into the practice. Every person took the time to teach me new skills and encourage me along the way. My mentor doctor (Dr. Young) made learning a stress-free and enjoyable experience. She has continued to be a friend, mentor, and strong support system throughout my time in vet school. 

What were your impressions of Banfield before participating in the externship program, and how have those changed since?

Some people think that Banfield is corporate medicine and that the doctors are told how to practice. I had a very negative image in my head based on the information I was told; however, my time at Banfield has proven this information wrong—many times over. I have watched different doctors take completely different approaches to similar cases. Additionally, Banfield has supported and encouraged me as I grow into the doctor I will ultimately be. I have always felt supported by everyone I have encountered at Banfield. Even if my journey leads me somewhere else, I will always feel that Banfield is committed to bettering the field of veterinary medicine in general. 

I have become a huge advocate of the preventative medicine model that Banfield promotes. I have seen how the preventative care plans enable owners to afford basic veterinary preventative medicine (i.e., physicals, dental prophylaxis, etc.). This allows us to catch things before they become a major medical issue. This is why I want to be a part of everything that Banfield stands for as a company. 

Why did you choose this profession?

Veterinary medicine has always called to me, ever since I was young. I am a non-traditional student and had a completely different career path before pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine. The passion was always there, and it just took the right timing and the right support system to make it a reality. My family believes that animals are a part of the family, so I have always felt this is what I was supposed to be doing. 

What tips can you share for a student on the transition from school to doing their clinical? 

Your clinical year will be challenging, but it will also be the most rewarding year in vet school. You have spent the last three years of your life working towards this moment, and now you get to start applying everything you have learned. It will feel as though you aren’t ready, but let me assure you that you are. Take every opportunity offered to you during your clinical year; you will never regret having said yes. 

Any general words of wisdom for a student? 

Don’t give up, and stay focused. This is an incredibly challenging path to take, but it is worth every minute. Know that most of us in this field want to see you succeed and will do whatever we can to support you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help when you need it.

What most excites you about joining Banfield?

I tell everyone the same thing: I cannot wait to get to work with the amazing team! These wonderful people played such a big role in getting me to where I am today, and I cannot wait to continue learning and growing with them. I look forward to being able to help our patients and clients each day. 

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Horses have always been my passion and will always continue to be. I had to take a brief pause for vet school, but breeding and raising Quarter Horses to show is what makes me happy. With just a few months left in my clinical year, I am already working on making that happen again in 2022. Additionally, I have my border collies, and of course, I have a house full of cats that I adopted while in St Kitts working with The Feral Cat Project. Animal rescue is an important part of my life, and The Feral Cat Project let me pursue that while I was on the island. There is no doubt that I will find my way back into rescue work in Arizona when I graduate. 

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