International Programs

Margot Law

Australia

I was very fortunate this summer to have the chance to travel to Australia for a two-week externship at Randwick Equine Centre, which is located in an Eastern suburb of Sydney, only minutes from the Royal Randwick racecourse and beautiful beaches such as Coogee and the famous Bondi Beach.

Randwick is a large equine practice with twenty staff doctors including two boarded equine surgeons, several internal medicine specialists, a rotating internship program and a brand new surgical residency program, an opthomology service, and a boarded anesthesiologist who consults with the surgery team several times a week. Doctors, interns, and visiting students come from a wide variety of nationalities. During my two weeks I worked with American, English, Australian, and even Swedish veterinarians and students. I loved getting to hear everyone’s background and learn about how veterinary medicine is taught and practiced in different parts of the world.

Randwick Equine Centre has several different “clinics” within the same hospital. There are both medicine and surgery services, as well as a satellite practice at Warwick Racecourse where there is a treadmill for studying and diagnosing poor performance and upper airway diseases. There is also a large client base at Royal Randwick racecourse, which is only five minutes away by car. REC provides veterinary services at the racetrack to some of the top Thoroughbred trainers in Australia, including Bart Cummings, whose horses have won the Melbourne Cup eleven times. Having the opportunity to work on-site at these yards gave me real insight into the racing industry, as well as some brushes with celebrity horses! It also greatly improved my lameness diagnostics, as I would frequently tag along to the track for morning trot-ups, which gave me the opportunity to watch thirty or so horses trot out every day.

In addition to the hospital and racetrack services, Inglis sales yard is literally adjacent to the hospital, and I was lucky enough to be present during a weanling and broodmare sale. This meant that I got to participate in and learn about the process of taking “repository radiographs” of the sales horses, as well as wrangle yearlings who had been purchased and needed bloodwork done in order to be exported to New Zealand, Hong Kong, or Singapore.

For the most part, visiting students shadow the four interns at the practice, who rotate through the various areas of medicine, surgery, anesthesia, and ambulatory practice. The one down side of visiting in the early part of our summer break was that it was the quietest time of year for the hospital and several of the veterinarians were on holiday. I would definitely recommend checking with the practice to see how busy they generally are before booking an externship – but that being said, working in an equine hospital was very new to me and I was still able to participate in or observe many different procedures. They encourage students to observe surgeries and the boarded surgeons and anesthetist are particularly friendly and engaging with students. The vast majority of the clientele at REC are Thoroughbred racehorses, so much of the practice is focused on lameness, orthopedics, and surgeries to correct upper airway diseases. However in addition to the more typical cases I got to participate in a workup of a suspected neurological horse, the removal of a cervical mass on a young filly, and an emergency surgery to repair a severely lacerated lip in a two-year-old. Not to mention taking skull radiographs to diagnose a dentiguous cyst, or “ear tooth”!

Randwick Equine Centre is a practice in an unbeatable location with an incredible staff of welcoming and fun veterinarians. I felt very much at home during my time there, and one of the highlights of my externship was getting to spend a day standing in for an injured intern, working the anesthesia service. I got to intubate a horse for the first time, monitor anesthesia through two surgeries, and even participate in a successful resucsitation of a horse who had an irregular heartbeat during recovery!

I would like to sincerely thank the International Externships Program for helping to make this experience possible. My experience in Sydney this summer has really rekindled my passion for equine medicine, and I will be traveling back to Australia during my senior year for externships at two other hospitals, as well as a visit to Melbourne to see if Bart Cummings can win yet another Cup!