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Fostering Future Veterinarians

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Provides Veterinary Students Opportunities to Further Education and Career

Equine Veterinary Internship. Palm Beach Equine Clinic surgeon Dr. Bob Brusie (left) with former Intern, and now Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Santiago Demierre (right).
Palm Beach Equine Clinic surgeon Dr. Bob Brusie (left) with former Intern, and now Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Santiago Demierre (right).

The path of veterinary medicine involves many years of devotion to education, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, prior to putting that knowledge into practice. Only a handful of those students choose to pursue equine medicine, and an even smaller subset then take on the challenge of becoming a board-certified specialist in their chosen field.

Since its inception 40 years ago, Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) has been committed to supporting the next generation of equine veterinarians and has provided numerous students, at various stages in their education, with learning opportunities and mentorship. Through externship, internship, and residency programs, PBEC has helped prepare students and veterinary graduates to lay the groundwork for successful future careers.

Equine Veterinary Internship at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington Florida.

Equine Medicine in the Equestrian Capital

One of the key benefits of the programs is that PBEC is based in Wellington, Florida, an area that has rightfully earned its title of “Winter Equestrian Capital of the World.” The region is home to show jumping, dressage, polo, racing, and western performance horses; allowing ample opportunities for veterinarians to become well-rounded sports medicine practitioners.

“We are one of the foremost equine medical centers in North America and based in the epicenter of the equine industry,” said Dr. Scott Swerdlin, the president of PBEC who also spearheads the clinic’s Internship Committee. “The opportunities we are able to offer students looking to pursue a career in sports medicine are unmatched. In this regard, we are fortunate to attract top talent from some of the most prestigious universities around the world. Our interns get to be part of all the action and learn in an environment where every aspect of the horse’s health is examined with a fine-tooth comb.”

A Melting Pot of Expertise

PBEC’s team encompasses over 35 veterinarians who hail from across the U.S. and abroad to Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Australia, the U.K., and beyond. Their areas of expertise are wide-ranging, from lameness to acupuncture and breeding to dentistry, including board-certified specialists in surgery, diagnostic imaging, and internal medicine.

Dr. Sidney Chanutin grew up immersed in the horse world and spent time shadowing nearly every veterinarian at PBEC while she was in high school. After earning her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Florida, she returned to officially join the PBEC team as an intern.

Equine Veterinary Internship. Former Intern, and now Associate PBEC Veterinarian, Dr. Sidney Chanutin.
Former Intern, and now Associate PBEC Veterinarian, Dr. Sidney Chanutin.

“What I most enjoyed about my internship was learning from a diverse group of veterinarians,” said Dr. Chanutin, “along with their different backgrounds, styles of working, and varied approaches to problem-solving. Everyone is willing to help and offer their unique perspective, so it’s a truly cohesive team.”

The first introduction to PBEC for many students is an externship. Qualified veterinary students in their final years of school can spend a few weeks with the PBEC team shadowing emergency cases in the hospital, on ambulatory calls, and at sports medicine appointments at the industry’s top competition venues. Externships also act as an introduction to the practice for many students seeking an internship upon graduation. This allows both the aspiring veterinarian and the PBEC team to become familiar with each other and see if it may potentially be a good match for a 12-month internship position.

Dr. Santiago Demierre is originally from Argentina and completed his degree in veterinary medicine from the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 2012. He validated his veterinary degree in the United States in 2017 through a certification program with the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Demierre was an integral part of PBEC initially as an intern before becoming an official staff veterinarian.

“The high caseload and long-term partnerships working and learning alongside great veterinarians helped me not only in improving my professional skills and knowledge but also with other aspects such as communication with clients and colleagues,” Dr. Demierre reflected.

Former Intern, and now Associate PBEC Veterinarian, Dr. Santiago Demierre.

Unlike in human medicine, internships are optional for veterinarians. Once a veterinarian passes the necessary state board exams, they can start treating animals on day one out of school. Choosing to work under the supervision and mentorship of experienced veterinarians allows interns to apply their years of learning in the classroom into clinical practice. At PBEC, interns can learn with the aid of advanced technologies in diagnostic imaging, innovative regenerative therapies, reproduction and fertility software, and specialized surgical suites.

“While we can teach and provide them with a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience,” Dr. Swerdlin explained, “our interns in return are extremely valuable to us because they bring a fresh mindset and new ideas to the team,” explained Dr. Swerdlin. “The ability to work well with others, a good sense of humor, great work ethic, and most importantly, excellent communication skills are the qualities I look for in an intern.”

Never Stop Learning

Continuing education is a major component of a life in medicine. In addition to journal clubs, educational seminars, and opportunities to travel to professional conferences, students are always exposed to learning opportunities by working collaboratively with colleagues as well as visiting and referring veterinarians.

After completing their internship, most will pursue an associate veterinarian position, whether at PBEC, another private practice, a university, or work independently. Some will go a step further and advance their education through a residency program. Residencies are rigorous two to four year commitments—length dependent on the specialty—designed to give veterinarians the skillset, knowledge base, and experience required to become eligible for certification by veterinary medical specialty boards. Board-certified specialists are considered experts in their field and often treat complicated, difficult cases.

With board-certified specialists on staff, PBEC has provided residencies to select veterinarians over the years, including Dr. Michael Myhre. A graduate of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Myhre fulfilled his surgical residency under the direction of PBEC’s board-certified surgeons Dr. Robert Brusie, Dr. Weston Davis, and Dr. Jorge Gomez. He assisted on over 568 surgeries over his three years at PBEC.

“Completing my residency at PBEC has allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming an equine surgeon and working at a large referral center in the northeast. I learned a great deal about all aspects of general surgery, but especially orthopedic surgery. We did many fracture repairs at PBEC, and I would love to continue focusing on these in the future. Without my time at PBEC, I wouldn’t be able to practice as I am now,” Dr. Myhre said.

Former Resident Dr. Michael Myhre (left) assisting Dr. Weston Davis with surgery at Palm Beach Equine Clinic. 
Equine Veterinary Internship
Former Resident Dr. Michael Myhre (left) assisting Dr. Weston Davis with surgery at Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

Externs, interns, and residents are integral members of the equine hospital. It is part of PBEC’s mission to support the community, which includes the next generation of equine veterinarians.

Dr. Swerdlin said, “Teaching and mentoring young veterinarians and watching them grow into confident and competent practitioners gives me the greatest satisfaction.” To learn more about externships, internships, and other opportunities with Palm Beach Equine Clinic, please visit equineclinic.com/internships-externships or call 561-793-1599.

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