Veterinary Pathology (ACVP) FAQ
What is Veterinary pathology and what is its scope?
Veterinary pathologists work in animal disease surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. With the ever-increasing importance of the One Health concept, veterinary pathology is a discipline that is at the forefront, crucial in determining the cause of animal disease and its risk to human health. The subject in itself is broad, ranging from macroscopic studies on live animals to molecular studies on targeted proteins involved in various disease manifestations.
How do I become a Veterinary Pathologist?
The path to becoming a board-certified pathologist requires three years of additional residency training after completing the basic veterinary degree. Following residency, candidates should pass a rigorous board certification examination administered by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP). In addition, to maintain certification status, continuing education credits must also be completed annually. In the United States, two types of residency programs are offered
● Residency only program: 3 years
● Combined residency-PhD program: 5-6 years.
What are the job prospects and what is the expected pay?
Veterinary pathologists find employment in academic and government research institutions, public and private diagnostic labs (including zoos), government regulatory agencies, and industry (pharmaceutical and biotech companies, chemical companies, and contract research organizations). According to the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP), 44% of veterinary pathology diplomats work in private industry, 33% work in academia, and 33% work with government agencies or other private employers. Of those working in private industry, nearly 60% are employed by pharmaceutical companies.
Based on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2011 Report on Veterinary Compensation, the median income of a veterinary pathologist was $157,000. However, it varies from a starting pay of $120,000 in academia to as high as $XXXXXX as a pathologist in industry.
How do I secure a position in a Veterinary Pathology residency program?
For international students, it often requires lots of hard work and planning to meet all the criteria to be accepted. However, several of our alumni have successfully completed residency programs and are ACVP board-certified pathologists. One common approach that most of us have executed successfully is pursuing a residency program after completing a graduate program (MS or Ph.D.). While in the graduate program, it is advantageous to apply for short term observership positions with the pathology section of your university and/or prospective programs of interest. This is highly recommended and probably the most critical step, as it helps to get an idea of the nature of the practice of pathology and the variety of specialties, know the daily work schedule, interact with other residents, and to confirm your interest in the field. This is helpful in both ways, as programs will get to know you personally and will know you have an idea about pathology. In addition, it also gives an idea of the profile of candidates the program is likely to consider for residency. For e.g. having a Ph.D. degree, graduates with research experience, previous experience levels in pathology, clinical experience, etc. which might be the factors in considering residency applicants.
Applying for observerships, particularly for international veterinary graduates requires advance planning, as getting time slots especially during summer can get difficult and are usually booked in advance by US vet students. It never hurts to find out by sending an inquiry to residency co-coordinators or individual pathologists in programs you might be interested in. It helps to do observerships in programs that consider observers for prospective residency positions. Not all pathology programs consider international veterinary graduates. You may be able to get an idea of programs that consider international graduates for residency positions by looking up the program website for current residents. Examples include Cornell Univ, Purdue Univ, Wake Forest Univ, LSU, Kansas State, Michigan State, UConn, Univ of Florida, etc.
Where can I find study materials to prepare for a residency program?
There are multiple online resources that are helpful in pathology preparation. The first step would be to get familiar with the gross anatomy and histopathology of various organ systems. The following online resources are very helpful for both preparations for the residency program and the certifying board exams.
Where can I find additional information on ACVP and associated societies?
Below are some helpful links to get you started to learn more about pathology training programs and certification steps.
● The American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP)
● Society of Toxicologic Pathology
Whom can I contact for additional professional advice?
We have many alumni who are board-certified veterinary pathologists working in different spheres of the position from academia to industry and many others who are going through the residency program. It would be fruitful to contact any of them. Also, the authors of this article are in the Pathology profession and can be approached for additional advice.