Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Veterinary Medicine


The Veterinary Department offers two formal training programs for veterinary students:

The veterinary preceptor position, offered year round, is available for veterinary students during their fourth year of study. Because these positions are highly competitive, veterinary students should apply 12 to 24 months before they plan to get a preceptor position.


There are relatively few training programs in zoo medicine available for students. For the veterinary students selected, this experience often serves as the first step toward a career in zoological medicine. These opportunities are highly competitive, and most of the veterinary students who participate in either Veterinary Medicine or Pathology programs ultimately succeed in their goal of becoming zoo animal veterinarians.

Relevance to the National Zoo

These opportunities reflect the commitment of the National Zoo and its Departments of Animal Health and Pathology to training in zoo medicine. This training provides not only a tremendous learning opportunity for students but also often motivate Zoo veterinary staff to pursue new ideas.

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