Zoological Companion Animals - ACZM Residency Program

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Zoological Companion Animals - ACZM Residency Program at the University of California, Davis

UC Davis Companion Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine Service


  • 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 becoming increasingly 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 active and informed medicine, the service also affords a valuable consulting resource for the veterinary medical community. In addition, by improving the health and reproductive fitness of imported animals and their progeny, the program can help to reduce further importation for the pet trade. 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 a zoological institution or private ownership. At completion of the program, graduates should be well prepared for clinical academic positions or for 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.

General Scope and Nature of the Training

1. First Year Program

  • The resident is allocated 2 days of paid vacation per month. Vacation is scheduled by the chief of service.
  • The clinical portion of the service includes 7 months on the Companion Exotics/Aquatic Animal Health Service. Residents have primary patient care responsibilities. Under the supervision of a senior 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 in captive and free-ranging wildlife (with an emphasis on raptors). Residents are also responsible for zoological companion animal emergency admissions at the UC Davis VMTH. 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 one month 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.
  • The resident will receive exposure to zoological companion animal gross pathology and histopathology via direct participation in necropsies and via bi-monthly rounds.
  • 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 VMTH is committed to building strong relationships with its constituents. A major part of the residents' duties, therefore, includes timely communication with referring veterinarians and clients.
  • Research time (approximately 1.5 months/year) is provided for development of a research proposal, completion of the research project and scientific writing. This allocation of time is subject to change depending on the needs of the service. In the first year, the resident is expected to work closely with a faculty member to submit a grant proposal for institutional support for a research project.
  • Professional development time (approximately 1 month) is provided to allow the resident time to complete outside rotations (e.g. Sacramento Zoo, Marine Mammal Center, conference attendance, other) as determined by the faculty of the service, and depending on the needs of the service and the resident.
  • The residents will receive an evaluation after the initial six months of the program, and at the end of the first year.

2. Second and Third Year Programs

  • The second and third year residents will have the same allotment of clinical, research, writing, vacation and professional time as described for the first year resident. The residents will have increasing responsibility for patient management, and some supervisory responsibility for training and supervision of first year residents.
  • During the second or third year of the training program, residents must deliver a research presentation at the VMTH House Officer Seminar Day program (please see below: "Teaching" and "Research"). They are encouraged to also present at least one time 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 residents are expected to complete the ACZM credential requirements during the third year of the residency program to meet the submission deadline of the credentialing package by the end of March of the third year, and be able to sit for the ACZM examination following completion of the program by the end of October of the same year if the credentials are accepted.
  • The residents will be evaluated by the faculty once a year.

3. Teaching and continuing education:

  • 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, syllabus preparation, etc.
  • Residents will develop the ability to critically evaluate veterinary literature and will obtain the broad scientific knowledge base that is critical for understanding health issues. The residents are encouraged to use the medical library and computer-assisted learning programs and to attend as many campus seminars as possible. Zoological Companion Animal and Zoological Medicine journal club rounds with faculty are scheduled weekly. Zoological Pathology rounds are held with ACZM and pathology residents and faculty every two weeks. Zoological radiology rounds are held with residents, faculty and area zoological veterinarians once per quarter. 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.

4. Research:

  • The faculty will encourage residents to complete five first authored peer reviewed publications prior to the end of the resident program, to fulfill the publication requirement by the ACZM. 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. The program is designed to provide sufficient time and mentoring support for research and writing.
  • 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 visit the VIRMP website at virmp.org.

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.