Residency in Zoological Medicine

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is accepting applications for the July 2024 – August 2027 residency period. Applications can be submitted through the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program in the fall of 2023. Please see the VIRMP website for further information and deadlines.

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.

The primary goal of the program is to train postgraduate veterinarians in the specialties 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 five 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.

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 veterinary student preceptors.
  • Organize resident rounds amongst participating institutions and invited colleagues, including presentation of relevant literature (approved by ACZM diplomates).
  • Presentation of clinical or research cases at the annual conference of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, Wildlife Disease Association, International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine, or other approved conferences.
  • 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 a subject that best supplements the resident's knowledge base (e.g. statistics, fish medicine endoscopy, other).
  • 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:

  • Develop skills necessary to write and secure grants for research project funding.
  • Opportunities to 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.
  • Present research at AAZV conference, 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
  • 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 the residency program start date, in addition to above requirements.


This is a non-federal (trust) position, supported by the Smithsonian Trust. Annual funding is $48,000+ plus benefits.


Washington DC


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.


The 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 prior 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. 

  • Applications must be submitted by deadlines as specified on the VIRMP website. 
  • Applicants will be notified of acceptance or rejection for the position through the matching program.
  • Start date will be July 15, 2024.

Application Deadline:

Application deadline January 2024 (Actual date to be determined by VIRMP). 

Interviews will be scheduled between the application deadline and the ranking deadline in February 2024 (Actual date to be determined by VIRMP).



Internship Category

Animal Programs

How to Apply

All application materials should be submitted through the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program website,

For Additional Information

Questions about this residency should be sent to