Residency Program in Comparative Ophthalmology

Residency Program in Comparative Ophthalmology

Ophthalmology Residency Program

 **The following is a general description of the current residency training program and is true at the time of writing. However, please check back regularly as it is updated as information changes regarding specific residencies each year.**

Residency in Comparative Ophthalmology

The Comparative Ophthalmology Service, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis traditionally offers one 4-year residency training program in Comparative Ophthalmology annually. Typically the program begins on the 1st August each year. Currently the UC Davis Comparative Ophthalmology Section comprises 4 residents, one ophthalmology intern, 2 full time ophthalmology technicians, 7 ACVO-Diplomates, and one emeritus Diplomate, and a large,  multidisciplinary, NIH-funded vision science laboratory.  All members of our team work in close coordination to provide exemplary ophthalmic care for animals of all species, communicate clearly with owners and referring veterinarians, to teach DVM students, and advance knowledge in comparative ophthalmology.

A. Program Description

 The ophthalmology residency program is currently a 4-year program designed to provide training in all medical and surgical aspects of comparative ophthalmology including large and small domestic animals, animals used in laboratories, and non-domestic animals. Residents are responsible for hospital patients and assist in instruction of professional veterinary medical students and other residents. In addition, residents are trained in ophthalmic screening of mice for the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium, development and execution of hypothesis-driven research, mentoring in grant development and manuscript preparation, learning research techniques, and provided diverse opportunities for interaction through lectures and rounds with the Department of Ophthalmology in the University of California-Davis Medical Center. The program is collectively designed to prepare the resident for a clinical and research career in an academic institution and board certification through the credential and examination process administered by the  American Board of Veterinary Ophthalmology (ABVO).

B. Licensure

The California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) requires all veterinarians working at the University of California, Davis with primary patient care duties to hold a special University license. To obtain this University license, veterinarians that are not already licensed in the state of California will be required to take a 3-day course on regionally-important diseases and a short, open-book jurisprudence test, in addition to undergoing a background check. The course typically is given on-site at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine early in the course of each training program. The cost of licensure (currently $290) will be the responsibility of the trainee. This limited license permits individuals to work in California as veterinarians for University-related practice only. If in doubt, please contact the Office of the CVMB for clarification.

C. Goals of the Residency Program

  1. Development of clinical skills to successfully practice veterinary and comparative ophthalmology.
  2. Development of a broad knowledge of the eye and its diseases.
  3. Development of effective clinical teaching skills.
  4. Introduction to methods of research in vision science including study design and execution, as well as grant and manuscript preparation.
  5. Preparation for the certifying examination of the American Board of Veterinary Ophthalmology.

D. Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Regular participation in clinical activities of the Ophthalmology Service including evening and weekend emergency duty. Residents must be able to arrive at the hospital within 15 minutes of an emergency call; therefore, residents must plan to live within 15 miles of the hospital. Ophthalmology residents are not obligated to rotate through the general veterinary medical after-hours emergency service. 
    • Medical Ophthalmology - Beginning residents are initially under direct supervision of a faculty member. There is then a gradual increase in responsibility throughout the residency program; however, all new cases are seen in conjunction with an ACVO Diplomate.
    • Surgical Training - Each resident must successfully complete a rigorous reading, simulator, and ex-vivo (cadaver eye) surgical training program. All intraocular and extraocular surgery on patients is done under direct supervision of senior staff until the resident has demonstrated sufficient skills to justify her or his operating independently.
    • Ophthalmic Pathology - Under the direct supervision and mentoring of an ocular pathologist, residents are required to develop sufficient skills in and knowledge of ocular pathology to enable them to interpret gross and histopathologic changes in diseased ocular tissue.
    • The UCD Mouse Biology Program is a major participant in the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium. The UCD Veterinary Ophthalmology Service provides ophthalmic screening of mice for this program, which forms a major responsibility of the first-year resident.
    • Research - During his or her training program, each resident must complete a research project in an area related to ophthalmology or vision science. Submission of a manuscript to a peer-reviewed, archival journal is expected. The expenses of conducting this research and the publication of the information may be borne, at least in part, by the Ophthalmology Service; however, the resident is expected to apply for intramural or extramural funds to support their research.
    •  Regular participation in seminars, conferences, rounds, and journal club, including those held in association with the UCD Medical School is required. Presentation of research data at the VMTH Veterinary Intern and Resident Research Symposium Day and at least one ACVO Resident's Forum is required on at least one occasion.
    • Attendance at two or more meetings of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, one Magrane Basic Science Course, and one or more of the UCD or UW phaco training courses is required during the residency training program. University funds may be available to partially subsidize the expenses involved in these, but attendance is ultimately the resident's responsibility.
    • Teaching - Considerable responsibility for teaching students in clinics and participation in teaching laboratories for UCD veterinary student courses is required. The resident may also be asked to provide some lectures in ophthalmology courses for UCD veterinary medical students, at local associations, or to veterinary student clubs.
    • Medical Records - All patient records must be completed in an exemplary and timely fashion.
  2. The VMTH is committed to building strong relationships with its constituents and maintaining excellent communications within its walls. Therefore, timely and complete communication with referring veterinarians and clients forms a major part of the resident's duties.  Residents must also establish and maintain cordial relationships with all members of the VMTH community: students, fellow house officers, faculty, staff, referring veterinarians, and clients.
  3. Continuation into subsequent years of the training program is contingent upon satisfactory performance in previous and current years.
  4. Failure to meet all aspects of the duties and responsibilities will result in termination or withholding of the certificate of residency completion.

E. Requirements

  1. Graduation from a School of Veterinary Medicine.
  2. A minimum of 12 months' full-time clinical practice as a veterinarian in a general ("rotating") internship or equivalent private practice experience between completion of the veterinary degree and beginning the residency program.
  3. Demonstration of high motivation and excellent interpersonal skills.
  4. Satisfactory ethical standing.

F. Application procedure

  1.  The application procedures vary somewhat each year and you must check back here regularly to verify requirements for any given cycle. In recent years, the University of California Davis Veterinary Ophthalmology Program has adhered to the Ophthalmology Residency Choosing Association (ORCA) rules as outlined on the ACVO website. The Veterinary Internship-Residency Matching Program (VIRMP) has NOT been utilized. So that you may begin thinking about and planning your packet, typically, the following items have been required:
  • A UCD-VMTH residency application form.
  • A personal statement highlighting career goals, personal background, and reasons for applying for this residency.
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Three to five letters of recommendation from faculty members or veterinary/medical practitioners. These letters should address (among other things) aptitude and performance in intellectual and creative pursuits pertinent to scientific research, knowledge of veterinary medicine, clinical skills, ability to apply knowledge in a clinical situation, and ability to communicate and work with others in a team.
  • Veterinary school transcripts- including grade point average and class rank. An official English translation of these must be included if they are not in English.


UCD joint Ophthalmology Residency/Internship/Research Fellowship application form.

G. Review Process:

The review process also may vary from year to year; however, typically, written applications are reviewed and a selected number of applicants are short-listed and invited for a personal 1-day interview at the University of California-Davis – usually between the end of the ACVO meeting (usually late October to early November) and the withdrawal date for the VIRMP program (usually early January).


H. Interviews/Service Visits

Short (1-2 day) visits for resident candidates are permitted only at a time when we are not conducting invited interviews of those candidates who we have shortlisted.  Therefore, these are best scheduled so as to occur between February and October.

I. Timeline

To be determined each year; however, UC Davis typically follows the ORCA guidelines (see ACVO website). Please check regularly there and on this current page for actual dates for the coming cycle.

J. Information for foreign applicants

Foreign applicants will be considered for this position provided that certain conditions are met.

Questions regarding the residency application and review process not addressed on this webpage, can be directed to David Maggs, BVSc, DACVO at

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.