Zoological Companion Animals - ACZM Residency Program

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Zoological Companion Animal Residency Program at the University of California, Davis

Service website: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/clinical_training_programs/index.cfm


• To provide advanced training of the broadest scope in companion avian, small exotic mammal, herpetological, free-ranging raptor and aquatic animal medicine.
• To provide teaching experience in hospital, laboratory and classroom settings in clinically related areas.
• To provide research experience, including design and implementation of an investigative project in a clinically related area, as well as grant writing, manuscript writing, publication and presentation.
• To fulfill the credential requirements and assist residents to prepare for board certification examination by the American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM)


Non-domestic species, whether in a zoological institution or a companion animal situation, are popular and familiar to the average animal owner. Commensurate with the captive situation is the need for informed and appropriate medical care to prevent and to treat disease. As traditional veterinary medical education only briefly examines zoological companion animal husbandry, anatomy, and physiology, a training program designed for graduate veterinarians to specialize in and to advance the field of companion avian and exotic animal medicine via clinical practice, teaching and research is needed. From a larger perspective, through evidence-based medicine, the service also affords a valuable consulting resource for the veterinary medical community. Finally, the residency serves the public interest by the creation of a peer-trained and examined specialist who offers an advanced standard of medical care complementary to the current demands of either an academic or zoological institution or private practice.

Qualifications Required of Applicants

Applicants must have a DVM, VMD, or equivalent degree and completion of a one-year internship or comparable post-graduate training is preferred. Practice experience is considered in lieu of formal internship training. Please note: Foreign nationals must be eligible for either a TN or J1 visa with no bars or home country requirement.

The duration of the residency program is 3 years. Renewal for the second and third years will be contingent upon satisfactory performance. The resident may be able to continue in a Master's or PhD program in an area of interest following completion of the residency. Funding for such a program will have to be secured through extramural grant requests and is not part of residency funding.

Residency Program
1. Clinical Service
• The clinical portion of the program includes 7 months per year on the Companion Exotics/Aquatic Animal Health Service. Residents have primary patient care responsibilities. Under the supervision of a faculty clinician, they will be responsible for management of patients presented to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH). Species seen at the clinical service include birds, reptiles, small exotic mammals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, mice, chinchillas and ferrets, and fish and amphibians, as well as captive and free-ranging wildlife (with an emphasis on raptors). Faculty and residents also provide medical care for the zoological collection at the Micke Grove Zoo, located in Lodi, CA, and the California Raptor Center, during once weekly ambulatory visits. Aquatic animal health clinical training encompasses field service visits to private collections, aquaculture facilities and local aquariums, in addition to weekly appointments for fish, aquatic reptiles and amphibians at the VMTH. Residents also rotate  an average of 3-4 weeks per year at the Sacramento Zoo, and 2-4 weeks at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA over the course of the three years.
• The resident will work closely with other specialties services, when appropriate, for clinical cases. Close working associations with anesthesia, radiology, emergency and critical care, surgery, internal medicine, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, oncology, and anatomical and clinical pathology residents/faculty are important components of the program. Since the caseload will involve many zoological companion species and problems involving all body systems, this exposure should allow the resident to develop broad clinical competency.
• Residents are also responsible for zoological companion animal emergency admissions at the UC Davis VMTH. Residents share out-of-hours emergency duty on a rotational basis. Each resident will be on call for 7 days out of every 2-3 weeks, dependent upon vacations and external rotations. Residents are responsible for weekend and holiday duty during the weeks that they are on call and will be required to be present for morning and evening treatments.
• The residents' duties includes timely communication with client and referring veterinarians.
• The second and third year residents will have increasing responsibility for patient management, and some supervisory responsibility for training and supervision of first year residents.

2. Teaching
• Residents will have the opportunity to enhance their teaching skills and will be expected to have significant responsibilities in clinical instruction. This duty will be performed, in part, by assisting in the tutorial teaching of senior veterinary students and conducting clinical student rounds. Freshman through junior veterinary students also have full day experiential opportunities on the clinical service and the resident will be involved in this one-on-one teaching. Residents will be expected to participate in laboratory instruction provided to first-third year veterinary students. Experience lecturing to a large audience will be provided in a seminar/rounds format. Residents will receive assistance and guidance in the preparation and delivery of manuscripts and lectures. In addition, they are encouraged and mentored in developing skills in didactic teaching. They are provided with materials to give the lectures and are counseled ahead of time regarding lecturing style and syllabus preparation.

3. Research

• The residents will be required write an internal grant, undertake and publish in a refereed journal an investigational project focused on an aspect of zoological companion animal health in the last quarter of the first year or first half of the second year. The project should have approval from the faculty mentor and Chief of Service. In addition, it is expected that the resident will also publish 4 additional manuscripts that could be retrospective studies, case series or case reports in refereed journals to fulfill the ACZM requirements.

• During the second or third year of the training program, residents must deliver a research presentation at the VMTH House Officer Seminar Day program. They are encouraged to also present at the annual American Association of Zoological Veterinarians, Association of Avian Veterinarians, Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, or Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians conferences.

• The program is designed to provide mentoring and sufficient time to meet this requirements including 8 weeks per year for development of research projects, writing and presentation. Study time for boards and professional development time through outside rotations (e.g. conference attendance, additional rotation in zoological institutions, etc) are included within this period and encouraged once the publication and presentation requirements have been met.

4. Other

• Mentorship: Each resident will be assigned a primary residency mentor. This faculty member will coordinate with the resident and service faculty the resident activities to meet the requirements to successfully complete the residency program and to credential for the ACZM examination.

• Journal club and Rounds: Residents will develop the ability to critically evaluate veterinary literature and will obtain the broad scientific knowledge base. Zoological Companion Animal (1 hour) and Zoo and Wildlife Medicine (1 hour) journal club with faculty are scheduled weekly. Zoological Pathology rounds (1 hour) are held with pathology residents and faculty every two weeks.

  • • Conferences: Attendance and presentation at a major professional conference such as the Annual Association of Avian Veterinarians, Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, or Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians Meetings or American Association of Zoological Veterinarians meeting is encouraged, and funding may be provided from resident training funds to help defray expenses. When scheduling trips, priority is given to second and third year residents when conflicts arise.
  • • Vacation: The resident is allocated 24 days of paid vacation per year. Vacation is scheduled by the faculty.
  • • Evaluation: The residents will receive an evaluation after the initial six months of the program, and at the end of the first year. The residents will be evaluated by the faculty once a year in the second and third years.
    • ACZM credentials application and examination: The resident will be familiarized with the most current ACZM suggested reading list, credentialing and examination requirements  (www.aczm.org), and meet the deadlines for the credential application (March of the last year of the residency program) and examination application, in order to sit for the exam at the completion of the program (September- October of the same year if the credentials are accepted).

5. Selection
• Selection will be in accordance with the guidelines of the Veterinary Internship/Residency Matching Program. For application procedures, salary and benefits, and other information about the residency program, please see General Information on the VMTH web site. http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/clinical_training_programs/small_animal/index.cfm
• The University of California, Davis, and the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are interested in candidates who are committed to the highest standards of scholarship and professional activities, and to the development of a campus climate that supports equality and diversity.