Nationwide veterinary student externs talk about their experiences












Above: The 2019 externs, visiting Bonnie Lutz of the Klinedinst law group.

Class of 2019

Our 2019 externs offered insights into their experience:

Kristen Verdoorn, University of Wisconsin

The Nationwide externship gave me the opportunity to improve my business-management skills as well as expand my knowledge in the veterinary field beyond clinical medicine. We were introduced to multiple business concepts, including pet health insurance, marketing, clinic business models, and legal aspects of veterinary medicine. By meeting with multiple departments at Nationwide, I was able to gain insight into the inner-workings of pet health insurance. Understanding product design from a business perspective was necessary for me to fully appreciate the intricacies of the business. I feel that I am better equipped to discuss insurance in the future, and I can better relay the benefits of insurance to clients.

To provide us with more knowledge with respect to veterinary business management, meetings were scheduled with both a veterinary corporation as well as one of the founders of a successful in-home hospice service. By meeting with a VCA veterinarian and hospital manager, I was able to better understand the company’s organization, and I was amazed at the variety of roles veterinarians hold within VCA. Talking with Dr. Mary Gardner, one of the founders of Lap of Love, enlightened me on the intricacies of starting and growing a successful veterinary service. The mission of Lap of Love is very apparent in every decision the company makes and the way the company has been structured. Learning business-management models from successful individuals in the veterinary field was extremely informative and one of the most beneficial aspects of the externship.

The highlight of the externship was meeting with Bonnie Lutz.  She is  an attorney who defends veterinarians in litigation and administrative actions. She talked about malpractice lawsuits against veterinarians and important legal points to know when practicing veterinary medicine. Through our discussion, I learned more about the significance of detailed medical records and how to approach challenging interactions with clients. Ms. Lutz has a wealth of knowledge that is invaluable to veterinarians, and I am extremely grateful to have met her.

Veterinary school focuses on teaching students how to be good clinicians. Learning to have good business sense will allow a veterinarian to not only be a good clinician but also a successful business person. This externship is a great opportunity for any veterinary student who is involved in VBMA and has an interest in business. I highly recommend it!

Sheree Deadrick, Tuskegee University

When you think of the phrase “business externship” you are probably picturing a group of people in suits analyzing product proposals with a never-ending amount of financial reports. Luckily for veterinary students, Nationwide provides an experience rather than just an externship. I spent the first few days becoming familiarized with Nationwide’s processes of pet insurance claims, customer care, and digital marketing. As I met with individuals in each department, I began to identify the driving factors of Nationwide’s success with pet insurance: the energy of their employees and the empowerment to take ownership of doing what is best for both the owner and pet.

In addition to discussing pet health insurance, Nationwide provided the externs with an opportunity to meet individuals with insight on how to successfully operate a 30-doctor hospital, what it takes to market yourself to your target audience, and the importance of understanding the laws and regulations pertaining to veterinary medicine. The most valuable part of the experience came from discussing the roles and non-traditional journey of a veterinary epidemiologist who works for a specialty hospital and a veterinarian who practices administrative law. I did not expect to meet with so many people who are passionate about the growth of the veterinary profession. Nationwide saw a demand for veterinary students to learn about business education and exceptionally rose to the challenge, and for this I am truly grateful!

Amanda Sautner,  North Carolina State University

Veterinary schools provide their students with education on many veterinary topics and prepare them to be good clinicians, but sometimes education in the area of business falls short. My week with Nationwide supplemented that education, focusing on pet health insurance and veterinary business topics.

Some of the highlights of the week included webcasting with Dr. Mary Gardner about business strategies for starting a company with multiple practices, learning about veterinary marketing strategies with BluePrints Veterinary Marketing Group, and sitting with a Nationwide customer care representative to experience how Nationwide works with their clients. Every person we spoke to had dedication and passion for the industry, along with a wealth of knowledge to share. I found that most of the people working at Nationwide’s pet insurance division have worked previously in the veterinary field, which helps them better understand their work at Nationwide. I also came away from the week more sure and ready to have a discussion about pet insurance and recommend it to my future clients. It’s clear that much work and thought is put into every aspect of Nationwide’s policies and client experience.

My favorite part of the week was the time spent digging into Nationwide’s different policies with the products department. The brainstorming and detail that goes into designing the different policies was fascinating. The session gave an in-depth look at how different policies can work for different clients depending on their needs. Overall, the week gave me better insight on my future goal of owning at least one practice, and I would highly recommend it to any veterinary student that seeks to build a better understanding of the business side of veterinary education!

Rachael Strauss, Cornell University

The Nationwide veterinary student externship is a very valuable program. I would recommend it to any veterinary student, especially those interested in veterinary business. The programming is varied, so it is interesting and applicable for any veterinary student’s interests. My primary reason for applying to the program was to learn more about pet health insurance. I think there is a benefit for patients and clients who use pet insurance. I feel confident speaking to it, now that I have a better understanding of how it works.

I also learned so much more about marketing, social media, veterinary law and what it takes to own and operate a business. My favorite meetings during the externship were with the BluePrints Veterinary Marketing team, and with Bonnie Lutz, an attorney who represents veterinarians. Both sessions were filled with extremely helpful information that is applicable to any veterinarian’s future. I have a notebook filled with notes from the week!

All of the professionals that participated in the program were enthusiastic and excited to sit and teach us about what they do. They were also very open to answering all of our questions, which made for a positive learning environment and wonderful experience.

Class of 2017











Our summer of 2017 veterinary student externs (pictured during their visit to VCA HQ) had this to say:

Danielle Harrington,  Iowa State University

How can a modern-day veterinary student differentiate herself, graduate confident in her ability to overcome millennial stereotypes and pay off student debt, while studying for sixteen hours a day? The solution: business education.

As externs at Nationwide, we learned from the best in our veterinary bubble about marketing, branding, public relations, and entrepreneurship. Each individual we learned from spoke of passion, risk-taking, and sweat equity as the primary reason for success. Because of these professionals, I was inspired to redefine my trajectory and explore the left side of my brain. It takes creativity (and guts) to respond to a negative review on Facebook, ensure that your staff are provided new areas of growth, or explain the urgency of a GDV to a frantic pet parent. I have always believed that business education is so much more than “owning your own practice,” and my time at Nationwide’s pet health insurance group further cemented this truth.

Kaitlin Wilson, Mississippi State University

My one-week externship with Nationwide was inspiring. My personal goal was to learn more about how the process worked behind the scenes. I would say that my goal was met and then some. The externship was half business (meetings with various companies) and half insurance (time with each department within Nationwide’s pet health insurance group). For me, the most valuable time was with a claims processor, going through nine or 10 claims, each completely different in its own way. Items that were declined and approved were explained in detail. Flags on accounts were discussed. For me, this gave me a bigger trust in the company and their process of following through on their promises.

Overall, it was a great experience and I would recommend this externship to any of my colleagues interested in pet health insurance or in business. Thank you to Nationwide and all the great people we met and helped us along that week!

Paige Livingston, University of California, Davis

Spending one week at Nationwide taught me not only about the services and products offered by the largest and first provider of pet health insurance, but also about the importance of business education and networking for future veterinarians. I loved getting to know the people behind the companies we met with as well as three fellow veterinary students from schools across the country.

By learning about the different pet health insurance products available, I will be better equipped to educate my peers and future clients on the importance of pet insurance. I learned about the latest insurance products: percent of invoice plans. These plans provide immense benefits to pets and their owners and allow them to receive recommended care without worrying about cost. I truly believe that pet insurance will change the future of veterinary medicine and pet health, so I’m very interested to see what the next few years bring in this arena!

I’m so thankful for this experience and will definitely encourage other UC Davis students to apply to this program in the future.

Cody Land, Purdue University

The Nationwide Externship was a fantastic experience that was truly eye-opening when it came to pet health insurance. I learned many things about insurance in general, a pretty helpful life skill in itself! My favorite part of the externship was getting to sit on calls with employees and hear them speak with customers to explain the products and how they work.This will definitely be useful in the future when talking to clients about their options with regards to pet health insurance.

On top of working with nearly all of the departments at Nationwide’s pet health insurance division, we were able to meet with companies outside of Nationwide that had valuable things to teach us about veterinary medicine. Don’t worry though: It wasn’t all hard work. We spent a large portion of a day in Santa Monica and Hollywood, experiencing quintessential tourist attractions. Overall, I had a fantastic week at Nationwide and would recommend this externship to everyone.

Interested in applying for this externship? Find out  more!