Training Programs and Contacts
Every North American Veterinary School has one faculty member who serves as the ASLAP Student Liaison. If you are a veterinary student interested in a career in laboratory animal medicine, your student liaison can provide you with career information, give you a tour of their facilities, and tell you about ASLAP student memberships.
Several research facilities offer summer programs, externships, clinical rotations, or other educational experiences for veterinary students interested in laboratory animal medicine.
- Summer Jobs, Rotations, and Preceptorships for Veterinary Students
- Externships with an Emphasis on Non-human Primates
- Summer Fellowships in Laboratory Animal Medicine
A number of institutions offer Postdoctoral Training Programs intended to help candidates prepare for careers in Laboratory Animal Medicine.
Certificate Program in Laboratory Animal Medicine (University of Guelph)
The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) provides a certification process for postdoctoral training programs and publishes a list of ACLAM certified postdoctoral training programs. ACLAM also coordinates a mentoring program for veterinary students and veterinarians interested in entering the laboratory animal field, for laboratory animal practitioners interested in becoming board-certified, and for established laboratory animal practitioners who seek further career development.
The Laboratory Animal Veterinarian's Role
A career in laboratory animal medicine is far from routine. For most, no two days are alike. The primary function of the laboratory animal veterinarian is to provide for the health and well-being of research animals. This is accomplished through a wide variety of activities including the design and implementation of clinical and preventative veterinary medical programs, oversight of animal husbandry programs, participation in institutional animal care and use committees, consulting and training of biomedical researchers and technicians, and other related activities. Additionally, laboratory animal veterinarians may perform independent research and serve as consultants and collaborators to research investigators in a wide range of disciplines. This breadth of functions creates diverse opportunities and challenges unique to this veterinary specialty.
Laboratory animal veterinarians must be prepared to attend to a large variety of species, most of which are not common to traditional veterinary practice. The unique biological qualities, nutritional and environmental requirements, and diseases of these animals provide interesting challenges for their husbandry and clinical management. It is important for good science that the animals used in research investigations be free of unwanted spontaneous disease. The laboratory animal veterinarian is trained to manage such deviations from normal in animal populations and advise researchers regarding implications this may have for research.
In addition to providing veterinary care, specialists in laboratory animal medicine play pivotal roles in other aspects of an institution's animal care and use program. They supervise and train animal care technicians in appropriate animal husbandry, manage and operate research animal facilities, and are involved in the design and renovation of these facilities. Typically, veterinarians will serve as liaison between the institution and regulatory and accrediting organizations. They provide training and guidance to the research staff on humane methods of animal experimentation, including appropriate surgical techniques, animal restraint, and use of anesthetics and analgesics.
Veterinarians in this specialty are sometimes called upon to educate the community. This may be done via classroom presentations, lectures to local and national organizations, and media appearances.
Research in laboratory animal medicine (also referred to as comparative medicine) includes the study of animal diseases, animal models of human disease, computer modeling, procedural and surgical techniques, and animal nutrition. Opportunities for collaboration with researchers in other disciplines also exist and may involve advising on selection, development, and refinement of animal models and animal biomethodology.
There are several organizations that provide opportunities to laboratory animal veterinarians for extramural participation in the specialty:
The ASLAP Foundation funds training opportunities for veterinary students in laboratory animal medicine. Your donation will help us recruit the brightest and best of our young colleagues to our specialty.
The American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners (ASLAP) seeks to promote the dissemination of experiences, ideas, and knowledge among veterinarians engaged in laboratory animal practice and encourages the training of veterinarians in laboratory animal practice at the pre- and post-doctoral levels.
The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) tests and certifies qualified veterinarians in this specialty. Since its inception, over 400 veterinarians have become board-certified by ACLAM.
The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) is a large organization representing veterinarians, scientists, animal technicians, educators, and the allied trade groups associated with laboratory animal medicine. AALAS improves the care and use of laboratory animals through education and information exchange.
The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC International) was created to form a self-regulating means of standardizing humane animal care and use at institutions with animal facilities. Voluntary AAALAC accreditation provides assurance that the standards for appropriate care and use of research animals are met or exceeded, as determined by an objective organization.