Archived News

Advanced Training Program Makes Worldwide Impact

June 27, 2016

Since 2010, the hospital’s house officer training program has drawn participants from 32 countries and 39 states.

Since 2010, the hospital’s house officer training program has drawn participants from 32 countries and 39 states.

Beyond providing clinical training to DVM students, the UC Davis veterinary hospital also plays an important role in training veterinarians to become board-certified in a specialty field. The veterinary hospital’s house officer program, which offers residencies, internships and fellowships, is the largest of its kind at any veterinary hospital in the country, and is known the world over.

The program routinely attracts candidates from all corners of the globe. Its current makeup consists of veterinarians from 19 foreign countries (on six continents) and 21 states. Since 2010, it has drawn participants from 32 countries and 39 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

“There isn’t a week that goes by where we don’t get an inquiry from an international veterinarian wanting to train at UC Davis,” said House Officer Coordinator Nicole Adams. “Our reputation for providing world-class training is known on every continent it seems.”
The hospital annually sees more than 50,000 patients, and nearly every one of those appointments is an opportunity for house officers to hone their skills.

“The large caseload plays such an important role in our residency,” said Dr. Marcos Perez-Nogues, a first-year equine surgery resident from Spain. “It would take more than twice as long to see this many cases at a hospital in Spain.”

Third-year neurology/neurosurgery resident Dr. Jessica Rivera agrees. “The caseload for both medical and surgical neurology, as well as the constant guidance from our faculty, have played a tremendous role in the knowledge I have acquired and my comfort level with both seeing numerous cases and my surgical experience.”

The house officer program currently trains 109 veterinarians – 99 residents, seven interns and three fellows. Their one- to four-year appointments provide opportunities in 34 specialty disciplines (more than any other veterinary hospital), including cardiology, diary production medicine, oncology, radiology, dentistry and oral surgery, anatomic pathology, dermatology, marine mammal medicine, ophthalmology, livestock medicine, zoological medicine, and behavior.

In addition to hand-on advanced clinical training, the program also provides additional educational and research opportunities. Many house officers are required to complete a research study during their time at UC Davis, and present that project at the annual Gerald V. Ling House Officer Seminar Day in March where dozens of veterinary research projects are showcased to fellow house officers, faculty, staff, students and guests. Some residency positions include degrees built in to the completion of the program. Dr. Yehonatan Berkowic, a second-year resident from Israel in the Livestock Herd Health and Reproduction Service (LHHR), is currently completing his Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine (MPVM) degree. All LHHR residents suspend clinical responsibilities in their second year to pursue the MPVM.

“The MPVM is one of the main reasons why I came to UC Davis,” Dr. Berkowic said. “In Israel, I was treating a lot of sick cattle, but we weren’t doing much to prevent illnesses.”

When he finishes his residency, Dr. Berkowic plans to return to Israel where he has a position waiting for him, and where he will be, to his knowledge, the country’s only board-certified veterinarian in theriogenology (reproduction). He hopes his three-year residency—and his MPVM—will allow him to help other Israeli veterinarians focus on preventive medicine to improve livestock health.

“It’s important we include international veterinarians in our house officer program,” said Dr. Jane Sykes, chief veterinary medical officer of the UC Davis veterinary hospital. “By doing so, we are not only improving veterinary medicine in California, but we are playing a part in raising the quality of veterinary care throughout the world.”

Dr. Perez-Nogues also hopes to bring his veterinary knowledge back home one day, where he can help future veterinarians become equine experts.

“Ideally, I would like to work in private practice for five to 10 years as an equine surgeon,” said Dr. Perez-Nogues. “That should provide me the time necessary to see just about any case possible. Once I reach that level, I plan to return to Spain and teach veterinary medicine.”

After studying abroad in Japan and Australia as an undergraduate at Penn State University, Dr. Rivera may once again be living overseas soon, as she is currently interviewing for a position in Hong Kong.

“The opportunities that this residency has opened up for me make for a very exciting future,” Dr. Rivera said.

Featured House Officers
•    Dr. Kanae Takada is participating in a one-year internship in Renal Medicine and Hemodialysis. She hails from Japan, where hemodialysis is offered at several veterinary facilities, but advanced training in the specialty is extremely limited. She plans to pursue a residency in the U.S. or Canada following her internship, and possibly bring that experience back to Japan someday. 

•    Drs. Pablo Espinosa, Marcos Perez-Nogues, and Albert Torrent-Crosa are all from Spain. The three equine surgery residents came to UC Davis because of its esteemed reputation of being one of the best equine services in the world. Advanced training opportunities are minimal in Spain, as there are only a handful of board-certified surgeons in the entire country. These three hope to add to that number.

•    Dr. Yehonatan Berkowic looks forward to returning to Israel and implementing preventive medicine practices he is learning as part of his residency with the Livestock Herd Health and Reproduction Service. He graduated from Israel’s only veterinary school, the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The school has a long-standing connection to UC Davis (whose shelter medicine program is also supported by, and named after, the Koret Foundation). Many of Dr. Berkowic’s professors at Koret were trained at UC Davis, and encouraged him to apply for the residency program.

•    Dr. Jessica Rivera, a first generation American whose parents emigrated from El Salvador, was born and raised in New Jersey. As an undergraduate at Penn State, she was a recipient of the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship – a full scholarship for minorities based on academic merit. She and her two younger brothers were the first in her family to go to college. Following graduation, she went on to complete veterinary school at the University of Florida. Dr. Rivera is completing a residency in the Neurology/Neurosurgery Service.

•    Dr. Alessia Cenani is from Italy and is in her third and final year of her residency with the Anesthesia/Critical Patient Care Service. During an anesthesia internship at the University of Pennsylvania, she trained under several veterinarians who were trained at UC Davis and encouraged her to apply for the residency. Because specialized veterinary opportunities (such as her advanced knowledge in anesthesia) are extremely limited in Italy, her immediate future will be best served continuing to practice in the United States. Her chosen career path in academia will be enhanced by her upcoming Research and Education in Advanced Clinical Health Fellowship at UC Davis next year. Someday, she would like to see things change in Italy with regards to so few opportunities in specialized veterinary medicine, possibly even utilizing her academic skills to be part of the future in Italy to lead those changes.

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About the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis—a unit of the #1 world ranked School of Veterinary Medicine—provides state-of-the-art clinical care while serving as the primary clinical teaching experience for DVM students and post graduate veterinarian residents. The VMTH treats more than 51,000 animals a year, ranging from cats and dogs to horses, cows and exotic species. To learn more about the VMTH, please go to Timely news updates can be received on its Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.

Media Contact:
Rob Warren
VMTH Communications & Marketing Officer