Program Highlights

Work directly alongside a wildlife veterinarian at a Belizean clinic in this veterinary pathology internship. Intern at a state-of-the-art onsite clinic at a center respected locally as a leader in pathological disease assessment, treatment, and research.

This internship is designed for undergraduate students as an introduction to basic veterinary pathology.

No prerequisite courses are required, but interns should have a basic understanding of mammal anatomy and physiology.

  • 100% live online through Zoom and Google Classroom

  • Earn 45 veterinary hours for VMCAS vet school applications: 45 live exotics vet hours and 9 open Q&A vet hours with observation and optional breaks

  • Join a wildlife veterinarian up close in real-time for necropsies and organ dissections

  • Learn pathological techniques used in veterinary medicine and participate in examinations

  • Support exotics rescue, rehabilitation, and research in Belize

  • Interns attending at least 70% of live sessions will receive a certificate of completion (sessions are recorded if you are not able to attend all hours live)


The main objective of the internship is for you to understand and learn the pathological changes that occur in tissues and organ systems and how such changes provide the basis for clinically-manifested diseases. You will have opportunities to apply concepts you have learned in cellular biology and anatomy and physiology, but these are not pre-requisite courses for the internship. You will understand and learn the occurrence, development, and progression of pathological changes in body systems and individual organs, and relate their morphology at gross (macroscopic) and microscopic levels to clinically recognizable functional defects and disease states.

Instead of a lecture-based course, this virtual internship uses Zoom and Google Classroom to bring you into the clinic and learn as the teaching veterinarian guides you through the diagnostic processes used in the clinic. The focus is on understanding the principles and patterns of pathology by seeing them in real-time. You will be exposed to practical examples of disease processes. This internship provides a foundation in pathophysiology and a link between biology concepts and their clinical applications.

If you are interested in pathology but the terminology above sounds intimidating, don’t be scared! This internship is designed for undergraduate-level students as a basic introduction to veterinary pathology. Learning in an internship is different from learning in a traditional classroom. You will learn by watching the veterinarian explain and apply concepts directly to actions taken in the clinic each day.

Your tuition supports the avian rescue clinic in rural Belize where the program takes place and ensures that your teaching vet can focus internship hours on demonstrating, teaching, and explaining the pathology of exotics in ways that will be interactive, memorable, and applicable to your future veterinary education and career.

Each day, learn and practice your skills in:

  • Veterinary pathology
  • Systems pathology (specific pathogenesis and diseases of body organ systems in birds and other exotics)
  • Gross pathology
  • Histopathology
  • Cytology
  • The spectrum and mechanisms of pathological changes in tissue
  • The role of clinical pathology in relation to diagnosis, prognosis, case monitoring, and the use of diagnostic equipment
  • Hematology, coprological examination, and parasites as they relate to cause, nature, and origin of disease

Join Dissections, Exams, and Clinical Activities:

  • Exotics necropsies: Necropsies of birds and other exotics will be a centerpiece of the internship, and a key component to understanding health and diseased systems of animals such as birds of prey, parrots, rats, rabbits, iguanas, and coatis.

  • Organ dissections: Detailed dissections of organs such as heart, eye, lung, liver and brain of exotics and large animals helps you to understand the structure of these organs, their functionality, the appearance and function of healthy organs, and the ability to identify disease in these organs.

  • Case studies and clinical rounds: the interns will work together with the veterinarians to test, assess, and diagnose cases and prepare a treatment plan

  • Clinical care of exotics: triaging avian and other exotic patients and shadowing the veterinarians in providing clinical care

  • Osteology: understanding diseases of bones in avian patients, including fracture stabilization, surgery, and fracture pinning

  • Therapy and treatment in avian patients, including wound care, physical therapy, and fluid therapy and management

  • Radiology: the use of x-rays, including dental x-rays, in diagnosing disease

  • Coprology: fecal exams

  • Parasitology/parasite pathology: discussion and discovery of common parasites in the tropics, their symptoms, their effects of micro and macro systems, and their treatment

  • Histopathology and cytology: use of microscope slides and/or virtual microscopy for tutorial-style histopathological teaching, including understanding hematology, blood stains, PCV, total protein, and differential counts.

The course also includes an intern project (approximate time commitment outside of session: 2 hours) designing an informational brochure on a common animal illness that will be used to improve animal health in the community around your host organization.

Note: all necropsy and dissection specimens are performed on naturally deceased animals, feed animals, or animal parts disposed of from food animals. No animals will be raised for or euthanized for necropsy.


Program Dates:

Enrollment Deadline
Summer 2023
Tue, June 13 to Sat, July 1, 2023
Sat, June 10, 2023

  • Tuesdays 4pm – 9pm ET with one-hour “observation break”
  • Wednesdays 4pm – 9pm ET with one-hour “observation break”
  • Saturdays 11am – 4pm ET with one-hour “observation break”

What will a Zoom session look like? Here’s an example internship day!

  • 4-6pm Heart Necropsy (Pathological assessment)
  • 6-7pm Observation break (Students may stay to observe microscope slides or observe animal behavior)
  • 7-9pm Discussion: Heart diseases in veterinary medicine

Internship Tuition

Since many students have had difficulty finding shadowing or volunteer experiences due to COVID-19, we are heavily discounting tuition to help students meet their goals.

Full Tuition
Summer 2023 Tuition
Summer 2023

University credit is not offered with this internship.

There are no additional readings, technology subscriptions, or course materials you have to purchase to participate in this internship. Extensive resources on raptor rehabilitation, which students can keep, are included with the internship tuition.


Wildlife Veterinarian

Jorge Luis Mercado, DVM

Dr. Jorge Luis is a wildlife veterinarian from Mexico who completed his studies at The National Autonomous University of Mexico School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry (UNAM), the oldest veterinary school in the western hemisphere! UNAM is considered the most prestigious veterinary school in Latin America and is the only school in the region to be granted full accreditation by the AVMA Council on Education. Dr. Jorge comes to us with various zoo and wildlife experiences, including focused studies on lions, tigers, and birds such as blue-footed bobbies, pelicans, and raptors. Dr. Jorge is an avid fan of the outdoors and enjoys working with the amazing wildlife he gets to see and treat every day.

A note about veterinary hours:

Your internship involves live meeting hours working with an exotics veterinarian in Belize. Some vet schools classify these as “veterinary hours” while others might have you classify them as another type of experience. To decide how to record these hours in your VMCAS application, please check with the vet schools to which you are applying.