Student Stories: Animal doctoring Down Under: Pre-vet student pursues dream

Many students have the chance to study abroad. Morgan Porter, a senior veterinary and biomedical sciences major, took the concept to a new level last year.

For 10 weeks, the Ephrata, Pa., native worked as a veterinary intern at Bulimba Veterinary Surgery in Brisbane, Australia.

"I always wanted to study abroad in Australia," Porter said. "I was such a huge fan of Steve Irwin and loved everything I had seen and heard about the diverse and unique country."

But because of all that she had planned academically with her major, studying abroad during the school year was not an option.

Instead of abandoning her dream, Porter took a different approach. Since veterinary schools require a certain number of hours of experience for a student to be considered a competitive applicant, she found a summer internship Down Under that would help her gain that experience.

On the job, Porter started out performing simple tasks such as sweeping, cleaning and sterilizing, and helping to hold animals.

"As the weeks progressed, my duties became more unique to the field and specialized," she said. "I took blood from animals, ran blood tests and aided in surgery."

Surgery was the most challenging and rewarding aspect of Porter’s internship, although she found it stressful. "The animal’s fate was in our hands," she said. "There is nothing as intimidating as making a permanent incision in a living, breathing animal."

Porter spent most of her time with the veterinary nurses who taught her. She assisted with their duties, learning how to interact with patients (the animals) and their owners.

Through an early application program with the Schreyer Honors College, Porter was accepted to vet school at the University of Pennsylvania, where she plans to specialize in neurology. She credits Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences for preparing her.

"Throughout my experience with the college, I've had so many more opportunities than I could have imagined," she said. "I'm not sure I could have done nearly as much at another school without the resources or the personal attention I get here."

For information on the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences major, click here.

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Last Updated February 03, 2014