Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Residency in Zoological Medicine

We are no longer accepting applications for the July 2015 – Aug 2018 time period. Applications must be submitted by December 2, 2017 for the July 2018 – Aug 2021 time period.

The Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park is offering a three-year zoological medicine residency program, accredited by the American College of Zoological Medicine. It provides the resident with exposure to NZP's diverse collection of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and fish, consisting of over 2300 individual animals, representing over 400 species. The residency is based primarily at the Rock Creek campus in Washington, DC, but includes time at the Front Royal campus in Virginia.

The primary goal of the program is to train post-graduate veterinarians in the specialty of Zoological Medicine, meeting or exceeding the standards established by the ACZM. Residents are expected to develop and complete an independent research project as the primary author (under the guidance of an ACZM mentor), with publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Residents are expected to work 5 days per week, which may include weekend days, as well as some holidays. Residents are trust employees of the Smithsonian Institution, and are considered emergency personnel.


Major objectives include:

  • Prepare for a career in Zoological medicine, with ability to credential for the ACZM board examination by the third year of the program.
  • Development of skills necessary for independent clinical management of zoological species in both captive and free-ranging settings.
  • Development of skills necessary for independent management and implementation of one or more hospital programs related to animal health in the zoological setting (examples include: preventative health; quarantine; preshipment; routine fecal examinations, etc).
  • Development and refinement of skills for communication and presentation of material to zoo staff, professional colleagues, and program mentors, including daily hospital and case rounds to veterinarians and curators, as well as weekly grand rounds with veterinary team members.
  • Understanding and adhering to laws and regulations governing care and shipment of zoological animals.
  • Familiarization with the biological, nutritional, behavioral, and physiological characteristics of zoological and wildlife animals.
  • Familiarization with the disciplines essential to practicing zoological medicine, including comparative pathology, nutrition, toxicology, behavior, captive animal husbandry, and exhibit design.
  • Knowledge of the primary and secondary literature specific to zoological, aquatic, and wildlife animals, with pertinent literature review in preparation for active or pending clinical cases and immobilization procedures.
  • Development of skills necessary for design and completion of investigative research, with dissemination of findings in peer-reviewed literature.
  • Proficiency with remote drug delivery systems and capture equipment, anesthetic agents, and immobilization protocols.
  • Indirect supervision and direct mentorship of 4th year veterinary student preceptors.
  • Organization of resident rounds and journal club, including presentation of relevant literature (approved by ACZM diplomate), and inviting and coordinating with resident, intern, and other veterinary colleagues in the surrounding area.
  • Presentation of clinical or research cases at the annual conference of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.
  • Proficiency with relevant electronic medical record system.
  • Proficiency in performing gross post-mortem examinations in zoo and aquarium species, and interpreting final diagnosis based on histopathology examinations.
  • Completion of formal coursework in fish / aquatic animal medicine.
  • Completion of internal rotations with the departments of Reproductive Sciences, Pathology, and Nutrition.
  • Develop and implement a study plan in preparation for the ACZM board examination.

Minor Objectives:

  • Identify clinical problems encountered with free-ranging and captive zoological animals, and utilize collective resources necessary / available in the diagnostic evaluation and therapeutic approach.
  • Development of skills necessary to write and secure grants for research project funding.
  • Completion of specialized rotations at other facilities to further the candidate's knowledge and/or skill set relevant to zoological medicine.
  • Attend the ACZM short or ultrashort course, pending timing and funding availability.
  • Participation in a field project, pending ACZM Residency Committee approval, timing, and funding availability.


  • A degree in veterinary medicine from an accredited school of veterinary medicine.
  • Preferably at least one year of clinical practice experience (internship or other).
  • Previous zoo or wildlife experience.
  • International applicants must have appropriate VISA and TOEFL test completed by time of residency program start date in addition to above requirements.


This is a non-federal position, supported by the Smithsonian Trust, with annual funding of $39,000 plus benefits.


Rock Creek-Washington, D.C.


The resident must make his or her own housing arrangements in the Washington, D.C., area, and should plan to live within 30-min of the zoo.

Term of Appointment

This is a three-year, accredited residency program. The second and third years are contingent upon successful completion of the first year. Positions are available from mid-July of the first year, through the first of August of the third year. One candidate is selected every three years.

Application Deadlines

  • Applications must be submitted by December 2, 2017 for the July 2018 – August 2021 time period.
  • Applicants will be notified of acceptance or rejection for the position prior to the VIRMP withdrawal deadline.
  • Start date will be July 16, 2018.


To apply, go to: https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/SOLAAHome.html. Select "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here" and complete the information to create an account.

Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Basic information
  • Cover letter explaining your interest in zoological/wildlife/conservation medicine. The statement should mention relevant experience, career goals, your reasons for wanting this internship, and what you hope to gain from the experience. Your statement is very important during application evaluations.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of reference
  • Veterinary college official transcript

Once you create your account and provide the information above, you will see a screen where you select the type of appointment you are interested in. You will select:

  • Type of appointment: "Internship"
  • Unit of interest: "National Zoological Park"
  • Program: "National Zoological Park Internship Program"
  • Project: "Rock Creek-Veterinary Residency"

IMPORTANT: Your application is considered complete when you hit "Submit." Your SOLAA submitted application with references must be received by the deadlines as noted above.

For additional information

Contact Internships Coordinator