We've had multiple people being confused about the VIRMP Matching Program and other internship / externship programs available at certain practices.
We've decided to create this post with some of the VIRMP basics that you must know. Hopefully after reading this post it'll make more sense and you can start to piece it all together.
Let's start with some quick definitions:
1.Rotating internships - 1 year training training positions where you rotate through the different specialty services in the hospital.
2.Specialty internships - 1 year training positions where you spend most of your time on the specialty service you want to pursue a residency on. You must have completed a rotating internship, and are likely doing a specialty internship because you didn't match for a residency in the first place.
3.Residency programs - These are 2 or 3 year program (depending on the specialty) where you meet the requirements delineated by the specialty college. After meeting all the requirements, you become board-certified in that specialty.
VIRMP MAtching program
Bottom line, the VIRMP website serves as a platform for internship and residency programs to be listed, so that through the match algorithm applicants can be matched to a training position they ranked. Make sure to read our blog post on how the actual matching of applicants to programs work!
It's crucial to understand that the VIRMP does not review, regulate or certify any of the programs listed on their website.
You must do your homework when evaluating the programs you're considering. We have other blog posts that can help you with this, and we also have a step by step e-Book that will guide through the whole VIRMP application process.
The above is much more important for internships, as there is no specific regulatory entity that supervises the quality of the programs. There are now surveys filled out by previous interns for some programs - check them out!
On the other hand, residency programs are regulated by the specialty colleges. For example, for small animal internal medicine residency positions (my specialty), the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine dictates the rules and minimum requirements that each residency program must comply with.
Therefore, any open position for a residency in small animal medicine, must comply with those or it will not be able to offer a residency program. You still need to do your homework - no free passes here - but at least there's an extra layer regulations.
The VIRMP lists internship and residency positions for those wanting to pursue additional training after graduation and for those interested in becoming board certified.
Other internship/externship positions
There are many practices throughout the country that offer internship and externship positions to applicants. If these internship positions are not listed in the VIRMP website, you DO NOT have to follow the VIRMP rules/requirements (and obviously they do not have to disclose all the information the VIRMP requests). You must instead follow the instructions set by that specific program.
Most of these internship positions are not geared towards specialty medicine. They are typically general practice programs geared towards making you a better general practitioner. Again, although they are called internships, they can be very different from the positions listed above.
Please note however, that the VIRMP does list community practice internships. Those are geared toward candidates that want to stay in a training program, but don't necessarily want to pursue residency and specialty training afterwards.
Externships, on the other hand, are typically short term training periods where you spend time at a hospital/practice to gain additional experience. As a veterinary student, you probably did or will be doing some of these. They have nothing to do with the VIRMP positions.
They can however, be extremely important to obtain an internship position, as you'll be interacting and showing what you can do to possible future employers. And that is quite valuable when simply compared with someone reading a written application from someone they have never met or worked with.
Not all positions listed in the VIRMP are geared towards specialty training (ie. residency and board certification). Pay close attention to the programs available and their descriptions.
What about positions outside the match?
Some specialties doe not have positions listed through the VIRMP, or there will be positions both in and outside the match. Equine medicine, equine surgery, ophthalmology, clinical and anatomic pathology are examples of this. You must check in with your mentors to get more information if you want to pursue these. And realistically, you should always check in with them no matter what specialty you want to pursue!