Overview: Resident Training Program in Veterinary Anatomic Pathology

Overview: Resident Training Program in Veterinary Anatomic Pathology


Program Overview

    Our program currently accepts 3 residents for anatomic pathology every year. Each residency position is for three years, renewed annually based on performance. Residents are divided across three focused training programs, or tracks. These are:

1.     Standard track

2.     Lab animal focused track

3.     Zoo and wildlife focused track

For the first two years of training, all three tracks are very much the same and focused on developing exceptional gross and histologic descriptive skills, understanding disease pathogenesis, and formulating differential diagnoses. All residents receive cases while on necropsy and biopsy duty during their assigned weeks of clinics. There is no preference given towards case assignment based on track. When applying, residents must indicate which track is their primary interest. However, we encourage residents to list a second track that they are also interested in. An overview of the responsibilities and distinct opportunities for each track may be found in the table below. For details, please see “Program Goals .”


Standard Track

Lab Animal Medicine Track

Zoo and Wildlife Track


Resident receives necropsy and biopsy cases from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Lab animal rounds attendance mandatory

Resident receives necropsy and biopsy cases from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Zoo & Wildlife rounds attendance mandatory

Resident receives necropsy and biopsy cases from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Resident receives necropsy and biopsy cases from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Resident organizes Lab animal rounds

Resident receives necropsy and biopsy cases from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Resident organizes Zoo & Wildlife rounds

Resident receives necropsy and biopsy cases from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital


Resident serves as "senior resident"

Resident assumes primary necropsy duty with faculty support
Assists Y1 and Y2 residents, as needed

Resident takes duty at:

Comparative Pathology Lab
California National Primate Research Center

Resident relocates to San Diego Zoo Global

Resident receives necropsy, biopsy, and cytology cases alongside staff pathologists

  • While not required, residents are encouraged to take Phase I of the ACVP Board Exam during Y2
  • Residents are expected to take Phase II of the ACVP Board Exam following Y3

Program Goals: The overall goals of our veterinary anatomic pathology residency program are 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 tracks are three years in duration. Over the first two years of each track, the primary focus is placed on training in gross and microscopic pathology based on a diversity of pathology cases from the necropsy and 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 training period that affords each resident the skills in morphologic pathology required to matriculate into their specific focus areas during the third year of training. All residents will be under the guidance of experienced, board-certified faculty pathologist mentors.

Following the initial 2 years of training, residents enter track-specific assignments. Residents in the STANDARD ANATOMIC PATHOLOGY TRACK will assume the role of “Senior Resident.” 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, with time split between the Comparative Pathology Lab and the California National Primate Research Center. 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.

Our residency curriculum

    The University of California, Davis does not allow house officers to simultaneously enroll in graduate school. Didactic residency instruction is delivered largely through numerous organized rounds, as well as face-to-face clinical teaching. Our program is highly structured, with rounds offered every day and always involving at least one faculty member. Rounds topics include:


Rounds topics include

Many of these rounds are optional, but resident attendance is encouraged when possible.

University Residency Research Project

    All residents in the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are required to complete a residency research project during their training. The scope for this project is extremely wide and not necessarily restricted to topics in pathology. Historically, intramural funding has been available to support these studies, which range from retrospective analyses to hypothesis-driven biomedical research.

    We require all residents to identify a mentor and project during their first year of residency, with the goal of beginning work during the second year. Presentation of findings is required at our annual Veterinary Internship and Residency Research Symposium (VIRRS) in the spring. These projects often serve as the basis for both research submissions to annual meetings (including ACVP), publications, and even PhD projects. Examples of publications based on resident research projects are listed below:

        Evaluation of P16 Expression in Canine Appendicular Osteosarcoma

        Toll-like Receptor 3 (TLR3) Promotes the Resolution of Chlamydia Muridarum Genital Tract Infection in Congenic C57BL/6N Mice

        The Nucleoside Analog GS-441524 Strongly Inhibits Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) Virus in Tissue Culture and Experimental Cat Infection Studies

        Amdoparvovirus Infection in Red Pandas ( Ailurus Fulgens)

Opportunities for Teaching

    There are ample opportunities for teaching as an anatomic pathology resident at UC Davis. Residents are expected to take a leading role in clinical teaching of 4th year veterinary students during their required necropsy rotations- both on the necropsy floor and in our daily rounds. In addition, there are numerous opportunities for residents to assist in laboratory instruction during the DVM curriculum. Residents with a specific desire to practice didactic instruction may also be mentored by faculty members and deliver lectures during the DVM curriculum.


Salary: $44,786/1st year; $46,875/2nd year; $49,039/3rd 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 may be physically mailed. Required application materials that must be received by 5pm PST on Friday, September 3rd consist of:  

1) Letter of Intent specifying interests and professional goals. This letter must include which track(s) you are applying for (standard, zoo and wildlife, or lab animal). Applicants are welcome to apply for more than one track 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.


Overview of Interview and Selection Process:

Overview of Interview and Selection 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.

Visitors: Due to statewide and national restrictions due to the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 (Covid19) pandemic, we are unable to accept visitors or interviews for this year. Selected individuals will be contacted for virtual (on-line) interviews via Zoom. We sincerely regret that we are unable to offer interviews to every applicant. If you are not contacted by UC Davis to schedule an interview, we will be unable to accommodate one. Please see the updated instructions on how to apply, above, for a more detailed overview.

Contacts: All application materials must be received no later than September 3, 2021 and should be electronically sent to e-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. Kevin Woolard 
Residency Training Director
Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California - Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-5270
Telephone (530) 752-2235