Overview: Resident Training Program in Veterinary Anatomic Pathology

Overview: Resident Training Program in Veterinary Anatomic Pathology

Program Goals: The overall goals of our Residency and Graduate Programs in Comparative Pathology is to prepare veterinarians for careers in academia, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry or diagnostic laboratories.  Successful outcome of the training program includes certification by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP). The anatomic pathology residency training program offers a STANDARD ANATOMIC PATHOLOGY TRACK, a ZOO AND WILDLIFE PATHOLOGY TRACK or a LABORATORY ANIMAL PATHOLOGY TRACK. All three residency positions include a two year training period in gross and microscopic pathology based on a diversity of pathology cases from the necropsy/biopsy services of the W. R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. The program is structured to provide the professional guidance, facilities, and casework for graduate veterinarians to obtain expertise in the discipline of anatomic pathology. Our intent is to provide an initial two-year residency appointment to develop skills in morphologic pathology and acquire a fundamental understanding of the pathogenesis of diseases via rotating assignments to our hospital pathology services. The residents will be under the guidance of experienced board certified pathologist faculty mentors. After the 2 years of initial training, there are various options for a third year. Residents in the STANDARD ANATOMIC PATHOLOGY TRACK have the option to apply for the SENIOR Residency position (1 year), third year residencies at other universities, or begin a PhD in comparative pathology. Residents in the ZOO AND WILDLIFE PATHOLOGY TRACK are committed to a third year at the Zoological Society of San Diego. Residents in the LABORATORY ANIMAL PATHOLOGY TRACK  are committed to a third year at UC Davis with laboratory animal pathologists. After three years of training under the guidance of board certified pathologists (ACVP and ECVP), candidates are expected to take the ACVP certifying examination. At the conclusion of this phase, residents are encouraged to apply to the Graduate Group in Integrative Pathobiology in pursuit of a PhD.

Essential skills developed during the program include the recognition and accurate description of lesions, the formulation of morphologic diagnosis, correlation of clinical signs with pathological findings, and integration of findings with pathology literature. Residents are also expected to understand the molecular, biochemical, and cellular basis for disease processes and species differences in responses to disease. Furthermore, competence in scientific writing and public speaking are promoted through resident rounds and teaching opportunities.

The discipline for all candidates is learned through rotations on the necropsy and biopsy services and participation in seminars. The VMTH offers a diversified case load, including companion animals, equine, exotic hoof stock, food animals, laboratory animals, and a variety of wild and exotic species. The Anatomic Pathology Service at the VMTH has approximately 1800 biopsies and 1400 necropsies a year, of which approximately 15% are zoo and wild animal or exotic pet cases. Residents can gain further experience in non-human primate, poultry, food animal, and fish pathology through rotations at UC laboratories outside of the VMTH. Residents assume primary responsibility for gross and histopathologic evaluations and reports on all cases that are submitted during their assigned rotations. All aspects of case evaluation (gross necropsy, histopathology evaluation, and pathology reporting) are guided and reviewed by an ACVP or ECVP pathologist. Cases are also reviewed by specialty pathologists, when appropriate. 

The departmental seminars endeavor to supplement necropsy and biopsy casework by providing greater breadth and depth of material. Program seminars include Advanced Systems and Species Pathology, Journal Club/Histopathology Conference, Gross Pathology Discussion, and Surgical Pathology. Residents also participate in weekly Gross Pathology Rounds and Dermatopathology Conference. A variety of monthly rounds are also attended, which include: Ocular Pathology, Oral Pathology, Zoological Pathology Rounds, Advanced General Pathology Review and Lab Animal Pathology Conference. Residents actively participate in these seminars, thereby acquiring experience in preparing and presenting findings to a professional audience. Residents are also expected to present their cases at VMTH clinical grand rounds, when appropriate.

To acquire investigative skills, residents select an appropriate research topic based on hospital case material within their first year of residency under the guidance of a faculty mentor. This project should result in a manuscript suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed scientific journal (such as Veterinary Pathology) and a formal presentation at the annual VMTH House Officers Seminar Day. Residents also acquire speaking and teaching skills through instruction of fourth year students on necropsy rotation, and in assisting at wet laboratories for General and Systems Pathology courses in the veterinary school curriculum.

Because residents are full time employees of the VMTH during their first two years of training, they are not permitted to concurrently enroll in graduate school. However, graduate courses in pathology are often scheduled to allow auditing by residents.

Program Length: All residency appointments are renewed annually with renewal based on adequate progress. A third year of advanced training for Standard track residents is available at the VMTH (SENIOR residency position), based on interest and performance during the first two years of training. For the third year of training, residents in the LABORATORY ANIMAL PATHOLOGY TRACK, and residents in the ZOO AND WILDLIFE PATHOLOGY TRACK.

Standard track residents after their second year can choose to transition directly into a PhD program. These graduate students continue to participate in hospital pathology services on a part-time basis to fulfill their third year requirement to qualify for the ACVP examination.

Program Size: The program currently consists of three first year residents, four second year residents, one third year or SENIOR Resident one third year ZOO AND WILDLIFE PATHOLOGY TRACK resident at the San Diego Zoo, and one third year LABORATORY ANIMAL PATHOLOGY TRACK resident at the Comparative Pathology Lab and the California National Primate and Research Center. Up to 10 graduate students also participate in program activities. Faculty includes twelve board certified (ACVP or ECVP) anatomic pathology faculty, and four ACVP clinical pathology faculty members. Pathologists from the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratories, the Center of Comparative Medicine, the Comparative Pathology Laboratory, and the California National Primate and Research Center on campus also participate in seminars and are available for consultations.


Salary: $43,482/1st year; $45,510/2nd year; $47,611/3rd year

Benefits include: Medical, dental, vision, and life insurance and vacation and sick pay.

Qualifications & Requirements for Admission to the Program:  Qualifications for admission include a DVM (or equivalent degree) from a veterinary school accredited by the AVMA (preferred) and a scholastic record sufficient for acceptance into graduate school (a minimum GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate and veterinary school courses). Although resident applicants do not apply to graduate school at the time of application to the residency, we give preference to residents who are qualified to continue their advanced training in a post-doctoral degree program. GRE scores can be included by are not required for application to residency program.

Application: All application materials must be submitted electronically .  The only exception is official transcripts that are not otherwise available electronically, i.e. some foreign transcripts are only available via. hard copy, which will have to be mailed.. Required application materials that must be received by the September 30, 2019 deadline consist of:  

1) Letter of Intent specifying interests and professional goals. Additionally the letter should include which position or positions you are applying for (standard; zoo and wildlife; lab animal or senior). Applicants are welcome to apply for more than one position but must rank the order of their preference. 

2) Curriculum vitae 

3) letters of recommendation, sent via. e-mail directly from the referee and not the candidate.

4) Official transcripts from all veterinary and post-veterinary education. You may submit them electronically along with your entire application packet, but a certified official hard copy must be mailed separately in a sealed envelope by you or your veterinary school. If you are a foreign applicant interpretation of their University’s grading system has to be provided with the application. FOREIGN APPLICANTS.

5) Official class rank from your veterinary school. Please indicate if official class rank is not available from your school.

6) TOEFL scores for foreign applicants. If English is not your first language, applicants must submit TOEFL scores or provide equivalent evidence of demonstrated written and verbal skills in English. Refer to FOREIGN APPLICANTS.

Foreign Applicants: Foreign applicants are welcome to apply.  Refer to FOREIGN APPLICANTS for complete application process.

Scoring of applications: All applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:  1) overall academic achievement, 2) academic achievement in pathology and related subjects, 3) clarity of career goals (letter of intent), 4) the promise of a successful career in veterinary pathology,  5) experience and interest in teaching and research including pursuit of a Masters or PhD degree,  6) interest in an academic career,   7) foreign applicants will also be evaluated based on their evidence of excellence in written and spoken English. Top applicants will be invited for a phone interview.

Visitors: Visiting our program prior to application is not required but externships and/or one day interviews for resident applicants are encouraged VISITOR POLICY. Schedule visits by contacting Ms. Becky Griffey. Visits to the department must take place prior to September 30, 2019.

Contacts: All application materials must be received no later than September 30, 2019 and should be mailed to:

Ms. Becky Griffey
Residency Application Coordinator
VMTH Anatomic Pathology
1345 Vet Med 3A
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California - Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-5270
Telephone (530) 752-1369

Additional information about the training program can be obtained by contacting:

Dr. Patricia Pesavento 
Residency Training Coordinator 
Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California - Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-5270
Telephone (530) 752-1166