Taking the next steps in Zoological Medicine

Zoological medicine
What is zoological medicine?

Zoological medicine encompasses a whole range of species, range from exotic pets to animals in zoological collections. When taking the next steps, choices can be tailored to suit your own interests. The information below serves as a guide and is no means a comprehensive list. 

Getting Started in zoological medicine

If you’re just starting your clinical career, getting the basic principle skills up to speed is the first step. Skills gained in both large and small animal practice, such as surgical and the ability to work up medical cases are vital in exotic and zoo animal practice. Next step would be developing your exotics knowledge and skills which could be done in various ways. Joining relevant societies such as the BVZS, purchasing relevant books such as the BSAVA manuals as a starting point would be sensible, and further ideas as listed in the box below. 

First steps in developing a surgical interest:

Advanced CPD, Certificate or Master's?

Having achieved a good grounding, the challenge is the next step. There are many options, all of which ultimately depend on your final goal:

One option is to take more advanced CPD courses, focusing on areas such as surgery or imaging that are more challenging. This will allow you to take on a more diverse caseload. Some options include BVZS conferences, VetPD courses in exotic animals, and the annual International Conference on Avian Herpetological and Exotic Mammal medicine (ICARE)

Zoological medicine surgery
For many, the ultimate aim will be a residency programme to obtain specialist status


Another option is a certificate which allows you to formalise your knowledge. There are various certificate providers and it is worth comparing them to find the one that suits you and your needs. Not all certificates are to the same level, and some may require additional modules to be recognised by the RCVS, but all are able to be completed whilst in practice. Examples of certificates include Improve International's Exotic Animal Practice Postgraduate Certificate, ESVPS, and the RCVS CertAVP in Zoological Medicine

Undertaking a master’s is another option available, which in some cases may be required for diploma courses. There are numerous masters out there, it’s just a case of finding the right one for you. Some examples include The RVC and ZSL MSc in Wild Animal Health, MSc Global Wildlife Health and Conversation at the University of Bristol and a MVetSci Conservation Medicine at the University of Edinburgh

Moving forwards from the certificate/masters

For many, the aim will be a residency programme to obtain specialist status. It is a very competitive subject, and all are accredited by the European College of Zoological Medicine

For others a diploma is not the goal, simply continuing to develop and learn whilst in practice. Joining relevant associations and attending international conferences will allow you to continue to develop throughout your career. Information on residency programmes can be found here.

Additional information

Relevant associations include the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV), the European Association of Avian Veterinarians (EAAV), the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV), the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (EAZWV) and the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV). 

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