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  Home > Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency > VPHPM Residency Overview > VPHPM Residency FAQ's

VPHPM Residency FAQ's

What is veterinary public health and preventive medicine (VPHPM)?

All veterinarians contribute to public health, whether through caring for companion animals, ensuring the health of food animals, or conducting research and teaching. Veterinarians can have a much greater impact on human health, however, by specializing in veterinary public health. Those who specialize in VPHPM strive to reduce human exposure to hazards and diseases that arise from animals, both domestic and wild. VPHPM professionals work to control and eradicate zoonoses, including new and re-emerging diseases, protect the food supply from food-borne pathogens and bioterrorism, and educating the public.

If I specialize in veterinary public health and preventive medicine, where might I work?

There are many employment opportunities for those who specialize in veterinary public health and preventive medicine. Veterinarians with public health credentials serve as leaders of zoonotic disease prevention and control programs as well as for outbreaks of food-borne illnesses and vectorborne diseases. They also perform fieldwork to investigate new and emerging diseases and help strengthen an organization's ability to respond to bioterrorism and public health-related emergencies. They may also coordinate and develop public policy at the local, state, national, and international levels.

Veterinary public health and preventive medicine professionals can choose among a variety of practice areas, including risk communication, food safety, zoonoses control, public health leadership and policy, disaster preparedness, strategic vaccine programs, teaching and research, epidemiology, and food security. Potential employers include:

  • Federal health agencies
  • Federal agricultural or food-safety agencies
  • State and local animal and human health departments
  • Industry
  • Research institutes
  • Academia
  • International organizations

Will I be board certified by the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (ACVPM) as a result of the VPHPM residency?

No. The University's VPHPM residency provides training and experiences that will help you qualify and prepare for the ACVPM board examination. More information on ACVPM certification can be found here (link).

Who is eligible to enroll in the VPHPM residency program?

The VPHPM residency is designed for early- to mid-career veterinarians. Individuals with excellent communications, leadership, and interpersonal skills, who have demonstrated an ability to work in teams and who have a high-level of computer experience are well-suited to the program. The VPHPM residency program considers applicants with as little as one year of post-veterinary degree experience, but prefers candidates have at least two years of practice or related experience. Most residents have had at least two to three years of experience.

Does the VPHPM residency application automatically serve as an application to the masters of public health (MPH) program?

No. Residents have to apply to both the VPHPM residency and the MPH program separately--see the VPHPM residency application page for details.  Residents are enrolled on a rolling basis typically starting in January, May, or September to correspond with the academic calendar. Applicants must apply to both the veterinary public health (VPHPM) residency program and the School of Public Health. While application to the residency is on-going, the executive masters of public health (MPH) program admits students only during the summer session (i.e., May).  It has a March 1 deadline for U.S. applicants and a February 1 deadline for international applicants. If VPHPM residents begin their residency outside this time frame, they may take public health classes as a non-degree student and then transfer the credits into the MPH program once they are accepted.

If I already have a masters of public health or another advanced degree, can I still be considered for the VPHPM residency?

Although the VPHPM residency was originally intended to allow residents to pursue an MPH, enrollment in the MPH program is not a requirement of the residency. An applicant with previous MPH training may be considered for the VPHPM residency and may have the opportunity to work in an appointment up to 100%.

What is the application process?

The VPHPM residency application page provides detailed information on applying to both the VPHPM residency and the MPH program.

How long is the VPHPM residency?

Two years. While much of the public health practice coursework will be taken through summer courses offered by the Public Health Institute or via distance education, VPHPM residents may take regular courses offered in the traditional classroom format as long as the time commitment does not interfere with their primary assignments of teaching, research, and service. Residents may spend up to 10 hours per week in the traditional classroom format.

What classes are offered?

Course selection should be made in consultation with your MPH academic advisor to determine the most appropriate coursework to meet your career goals and interest.

Will I have a mentor or an advisor?

Mentoring is a critical component of the VPHPM residency. The residency director assigns a mentor to each in-coming resident. The mentor provides guidance to the student throughout his or her residency.  All VPHPM faculty members are expected to provide resident mentoring through rounds, project leadership, and joint faculty/resident meetings. VPHPM residents are encouraged to take advantage of multiple faculty members as mentors throughout their residency.

VPH residents pursuing MPH degrees will also receive an MPH academic advisor which may or may not be the same person as their mentor. MPH academic advisors are faculty members of the School of Public Health. They counsel residents on MPH coursework and approve the resident's MPH project. Residents may also work with an MPH project advisor to complete their MPH project. Project advisors do not need to have faculty appointments with the School of Public Health. Any appropriate University faculty member or state or federal agency official may serve as a resident's MPH project advisor.

What is expected of VPHPM residents?

  • Residents are expected to work 30 hours a week on a variety of projects and activities.
  • Residents without an MPH or advanced degree are expected to pursue an MPH degree while enrolled in the VPHPM residency.
  • Residents are required to update their VPHPM residency matrix on a monthly basis and submit their matrix to the VPHPM residency supervisor.
  • Residents are expected to assist with the teaching of public health and preventive medicine topics for veterinary students and other public health-related courses and field trips during their residency.
  • Residents are required to help coordinate and participate in the professional training of veterinary students as part of the VPHPM rotation.
  • Requests for vacation time must be pre-approved by the VPHPM resident supervisor. It is the resident's responsibility to communicate the approved vacation time with all the other VPHPM residents as well as project work supervisors.
  • Residents are encouraged to take advantage of conferences, workshops, and community outreach opportunities available through the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) and the broader University community.

Will I be required to perform a lot of laboratory work as part of the VPHPM residency?

No. Bench laboratory experiments are not routinely part of the research that VPHPM residents are involved in. Instead, emphasis is place on delivery of services through applied epidemiologic studies, public health surveillance, policy contributions, educational and outreach activities, and data analysis. In contrast to clinical veterinary practice, the VPHPM residency focuses on population health issues.

Why is it called a residency?  It seems like there is little or no clinical work.

This is a post-D.V.M. training program that is tailored to provide public practice experiences in veterinary preventive medicine, public health, and population medicine practice. The American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (ACVPM) has identified five core areas of competency within the residency: epidemiology and biostatistics; infectious and parasitic diseases; food safety; environmental health and toxicology; and public health administration and health education. ACVPM has recognized this as an approved "residency" that can count toward the credentials needed to sit for the board certification exam.

How many residents are there?

The number of residents typically varies from six to seven, depending on when new residents start and when others complete their residencies. On average, two to three new residents are hired each year. We recommend new residents start at the beginning of a semester (i.e., January, May or September).

Are there benefits beyond salary for VPHPM residents?

In addition to salary, the University provides low-cost health, dental and disability insurance, paid vacation, and sick time. Tuition costs upto a meximum amount per semester are covered through the residency. Residents will be required to pay all course and University fees. The Center for Animal Health and Food Safety provides residents with a laptop computer and funds for professional development and continuing education. For more information about medical and dental benefits, refer to the University of Minnesota Office of Student Health Benefits.

Is this position full-time?  Can I work another job while I am a resident?

The VPHPM resident position fills the entire work week. Due to the variability of project schedules, holding another position outside of the VPHPM residency is not encouraged.

I am an international applicant.  What do I need to know to work at the University?

For more information, please visit the University's International Student and Scholars Services (link).

I hear it is cold in Minnesota.  What can I expect?

No doubt about it, winters here are colder than they are in many other parts of the world, but Minnesota's reputation for cold is somewhat overstated. January's average high temperature is 20 degrees (F) / -7 degrees (C) and the average low is 2 degrees (F) / -17 degrees (C). Many Minnesotans love the winter season and the snow it brings. They engage in all types of outdoor activities including ice skating, ice fishing, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, sledding, snowboarding, ice hockey, ice surfing, curling, and snowmobiling. If you dress for the cold, you'll be fine.

Is it also cold in the summer?

No, summers here are wonderful. July's average high temperature is 84 degrees (F) / 29 degrees (C) and the average low is 60 degrees (F) / 16 degrees (C). Minnesota has more than 10,000 lakes and Minnesotans love to participate in outdoor activities in the summer including bicycling, swimming, rollerblading, wind surfing, softball and picnicking.

Please contact VPHPM Programs Coordinator Sarah Summerbell with any additional questions.


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