Veterinary students fulfilling preceptorships as they prepare for graduation

A United States map shows the locations where Auburn veterinary medicine class of 2019 students are completing preceptorships. One student is completing a preceptorship in Germany.
A map shows the locations where Auburn veterinary medicine class of 2019 students are completing preceptorships.

While most students are spending spring break free of classes and filled with fun, Auburn University veterinary students in the class of 2019 will be working – fulfilling their preceptorships at locations across the U.S. and beyond as they prepare to graduate in May and begin their careers in veterinary medicine.

A preceptorship is the final step in a veterinary student’s four-year curriculum. They have completed classroom studies and their clinical rotations. Under the supervision of practicing veterinarians, students are spending these final weeks before graduation gaining real-world experience in their chosen disciplines. The eight-week preceptorships allow students to apply what they have learned in classrooms, laboratories and clinical rotations for the eight weeks prior to graduation.

“The 122 students in the class of 2019 are at an exciting stage of their professional development and they have diligently labored and learned, practiced and prepared to enter this entrusted profession. As they embark on their eight-week preceptorship prior to graduating, all are excited about the next step in their professional journey,” said Dr. Dan Givens, associate dean for Academic Affairs.

The 122-member class selected a variety of specializations and locations for their preceptorships: 20 students are gaining professional experience in Alabama and 23 in Kentucky. The remainder are completing preceptorships in various states and some at more distant locations—including one student serving at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover in Germany. For example:

Brooke Barber

Brooke Barber and a dog.
Auburn veterinary medicine student Brooke Barber is completing her preceptorship at a mixed animal hospital in New Hampshire

Brooke Barber, from Frankfort, Kentucky, is pursuing her preceptorship at a veterinary hospital in New Hampshire, where she is working in a mixed animal practice.

“I have always pictured myself as a small animal veterinarian,” Barber said. “However, I spent a summer during undergrad in South Africa and will always have a soft spot for exotics and wildlife. I worked with the Raptor Team through the ZEW (Zoo, Exotics, and Wildlife) Club during vet school and loved every minute working with these species, from Red-Tailed Hawks to Eastern Screech Owls.”

Although from Kentucky, Barber said she chose to pursue her preceptorship in New Hampshire because she wanted to experience a different part of the country.

“I’ve lived most of my life in the Southeast,” she said. “The clinic I’m going to mostly works with small animals and horses, but others as well. I loved all of my equine rotations at Auburn, and I want to continue expanding my medical knowledge in this field.”

Douglas Hawkins

Troy, Alabama native Douglas Hawkins will be serving his preceptorship at Grand Strand Animal Hospital in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a facility specializing in small animal practice.

“For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a veterinarian,” Hawkins said. “My grandfather and father were and are veterinarians who graduated from Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.”

Hawkins recalls vivid and fond memories assisting both in their veterinary work in the field. He said he most enjoys working in small animal medicine, surgery and preventative medicine. He chose to pursue his preceptorship at the Myrtle Beach hospital because he had worked there two summers earlier.

“It is a great place,” Hawkins said. “The clinic and staff were wonderful, and I felt that it would be a great place for me to learn with a multitude of cases to see and treat.”

Wesley Clendinen

Wesley Clendinen, from Tallahasee, Florida, is staying closer to Auburn for his preceptorship. He will be serving at the Dadeville Animal Clinic, a small animal practice located in Dadeville, Alabama.

“The clinic has the perfect balance of consistent case load while also presenting opportunities for in-depth discussion of difficult cases with the doctors,” Clendinen said.

Clendinen said he particularly is interested in veterinary surgery, and he believes that the Dadeville clinic will provide him with broader experience in that area.

“Periodically, a retired Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine faculty surgeon will assist with particularly complicated procedures. I’m excited to have an opportunity to assist with those,” Clendinen said.

Students are required to choose a host practice that is at least 30 miles away from the Auburn campus for their preceptorships. Practices undergo a rigorous evaluation process before they are approved to host a preceptor student. Applications are reviewed by a committee to ensure that they meet the high standards of practice that the college requires. Once accepted, practices can continue to host students for four years before repeating the application process.

The college also strives to ensure that the experiences which students gain during their preceptorships impact the future direction of the college. The class of 2019 will complete their preceptorships in early May, when they will return to the Auburn campus for debriefing to discuss all of their prior educational experiences, including their preceptorships. The class will subsequently participate in commencement ceremonies on Monday, May 6, at 6 p.m. in Auburn Arena.


(Written by Mitch Emmons,