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Residency in Zoological Medicine

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is no longer accepting applications for the July 2018 – August 2021 residency period. The next opening will be fall 2021, with applications due in late 2020.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is offering a three-year zoological medicine residency program, accredited by the American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM). It provides the resident with exposure to the Zoo's diverse collection of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish, consisting of more than 2,300 individual animals, representing more than 400 species. The residency is based primarily at the Rock Creek campus in Washington, D.C., but includes designated time at the Front Royal, Virginia, campus, as well as at three local participating institutions—the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Maryland; the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland; and The Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, Virginia.

The primary goal of the program is to train post-graduate veterinarians in the specialties of zoological, aquatic animal, and wildlife 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 five days per week, which may include weekend days, as well as some holidays.

Learning Objectives: 

Major objectives include:

  • Prepare for a career in Zoological/Wildlife/Aquatic animal medicine, with ability to credential for the ACZM board examination by the third year of the program.
  • Develop skills necessary for independent clinical management of zoological, aquarium, and wildlife species in both captive and free-ranging settings.
  • Develop an understanding of epidemiology and population medicine.
  • Develop skills necessary for independent management and implementation of one or more hospital programs related to animal health in the zoological, wildlife, and/or aquarium setting (examples include: preventative health; quarantine; preshipment; routine fecal examinations, etc).
  • Develop and refine 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.
  • Develop and refine skills for leadership roles within a zoological, wildlife, and/or aquarium setting and within the larger zoological/wildlife community.
  • Understand and adhere to laws and regulations governing care and shipment of zoological and wildlife animals.
  • Develop familiarization with the biological, nutritional, behavioral, and physiological characteristics of zoological, aquarium, and wildlife animals.
  • Develop familiarization with the disciplines essential to practicing zoological, aquarium, and wildlife medicine, including comparative pathology, nutrition, toxicology, behavior, captive animal husbandry, exhibit design, epidemiology, and population management.
  • Advance knowledge and understanding 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.
  • Develop skills necessary for design and completion of investigative research, with dissemination of findings in peer-reviewed literature.
  • Develop proficiency with remote drug delivery systems and capture equipment, anesthetic agents, and immobilization protocols.
  • Provide indirect supervision and direct mentorship of 4th year veterinary student preceptors.
  • Organize resident rounds and journal club amongst participating institutions and invited colleagues, including presentation of relevant literature (as approved by ACZM diplomate).
  • Presentation of clinical or research cases at the annual conference of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, Wildlife Disease Association, or International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine.
  • Develop proficiency with relevant electronic medical record systems.
  • Develop proficiency in performing gross post-mortem examinations in zoo, aquarium, and wildlife species, and interpreting final diagnosis based on histopathology examinations.
  • Complete formal coursework in fish / aquatic animal medicine.
  • Complete internal rotations with options including: Reproductive Sciences, Pathology, and Nutrition at NZP, and clinical veterinary medicine at Front Royal campus.
  • Develop and implement a study plan in preparation for the ACZM board examination. Minor Objectives May Include:
  • Identify clinical problems encountered with free-ranging and captive zoological and aquatic animals, and utilize collective resources necessary / available in the diagnostic evaluation and therapeutic approach.
  • Develop skills necessary to write and secure grants for research project funding.
  • Complete specialized rotations at other facilities to further the candidate’s knowledge and/or skill set relevant to zoological medicine.
  • Attend the ACZM ultrashort course, pending timing and funding availability.
  • Participate 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 is required, and at least one year of clinical practice experience (internship or other) is preferred. Applicants should have previous zoo or wildlife experience. International applicants must have appropriate VISA and TOEFL test completed by time of the 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.
The resident must make his or her own housing arrangements in the Washington, D.C., area, and should plan to live within 30 minutes of the Zoo. Housing options will be available at the Wildlife Center of Virginia campus (at minimal cost to resident).
The Smithsonian's National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution do not provide free parking to interns.
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. 
  • Applicants will be notified of acceptance or rejection for the position prior to the VIRMP withdrawal deadline.
  • Start date will be July 12, 2021.
Washington DC
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

Application to this program is outside of the veterinary internship/residency matching program.

To apply, go to: solaa.si.edu. Select "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here" and complete the information to create an account. Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Cover letter explaining your interest in zoological/wildlife/conservation medicine. It should mention relevant experience, career goals, your reasons for applying to this residency program, and what you hope to gain from the experience.
  • 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-Residency in Zoological Medicine"

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.