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Exploring wildlife medicine in a summer externship

Date: May 17, 2024
Brianna Blunck and Natalie Bauer standing in front of sign
Brianna Blunck and Natalie Bauer, School of Veterinary Medicine students graduating with their VMD, participated in the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Veterinary Externship last summer. (Image: Courtesy of Natalie Bauer)

Last summer, two University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine VMD students from the class of 2024 participated in the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Veterinary Externship, a highly competitive 4-week program that culminates in a final project.

In Wyoming, Brianna Blunck researched endangered black-footed ferrets, an experience that involved “stumbling around in the night with flashlights, trying to find and identify ferrets for population surveillance,” she says. Blunck did her final project on disease prevalence in bighorn sheep, investigating the cause of abortions recently noted in Wyoming.

“This externship was such a great exposure to the many routes I can take within wildlife medicine including field work and pathology,” Blunck says.

Blunck and Natalie Bauer have long been interested in wildlife medicine and both hold a master’s degree in conservation medicine from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Bauer, assigned to the National Park Service, also worked on a project to track and treat black-footed ferrets, this one in Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

Read more on Penn Today!

About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 34,600 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 6,200 patient visits a year, while our Field Services have gone out on more than 5,500 farm service calls, treating some 18,700 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.