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Focus Area – Laboratory Animal Medicine

Laboratory Animal Medicine (LAM) is a specialty that combines many elements of veterinary medicine, typically including clinical medicine, surgery, pathology, regulatory compliance, facilities and personnel management, and research. Laboratory animal veterinarians are employed in academia, industry (e.g., pharmaceutical), and government, and have responsibilities for a wide variety of species. There is good demand for laboratory animal veterinarians, which translates into relatively high salaries and benefits compared with private practice.

LAM specialists typically receive training in a post-DVM residency/postdoctoral program that lasts 2-3 years (or more with additional research exposure and/or graduate degree), and which may occur either immediately after the DVM or following practice or other experience; an internship is not required. Residency training positions can be competitive; therefore, good planning and preparation are important during the vet school years.

LAM is a sufficiently broad career path that veterinary students should be careful to avoid too much specialization; it is arguably the ultimate mixed animal practice. Animal handling and clinical skills are important, in a variety of species, and research is at the heart of LAM, even if the lab animal vet is not directly engaged in his/her own research program. Veterinary students interested in LAM should obtain research experience, but also  consider developing strengths in other related areas such as pathology, surgery, and large animal or special species husbandry and medicine.

Focus Area Leader

Steps to pursue a focus in laboratory animal medicine (LAM)

  • Identify a mentor/advisor who is a laboratory animal veterinarian
  • Plan CVM selectives, electives and other activities with the help of your advisor
  • Join the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners (ASLAP) and Student Chapter American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners (SCASLAP)
  • Make contacts/arrangements for externships during summers and 4th year; strongly consider a summer research experience if prior research experience is limited
  • Plan 4th year CVM rotations

Year 1-3 Courses


Effective for the Class of 2022, Students Must Take One of the Following Selectives (Previous Classes Had to Satisfy This Requirement by Taking Introduction to Lab Animal Medicine) to Meet Lam Requirements.

  • Introduction to Laboratory Animal Medicine (VMC 991-#04). A one-week selective (fall) intended to provide a broad overview of the specialty of laboratory animal medicine, using a combination of lectures, laboratories, and group exercises.
  • Active Learning in the VH – Lab Animal Medicine (VMC 992-308.09). This 2-week selective is offered as an extension of the Laboratory Animal Medicine senior clinical block (VMC 981). Students who take this selective are not required to take VMC 981 in the senior year.
  • Extramural Exp Lab Animal Med (VMC 992-317). A 2-week externship at the same location (1-week externships will not satisfy requirement) may be used, with focus area leader approval to meet the selective requirement.


LAM-Related – VMC 981, the Laboratory Animal Medicine senior clinical block, may be offered as a 2-week selective for Years 1-3 as part of Active Learning in the VHC (VMC 992-3). Students who take this selective are not required to take VMC 981 in the senior year. Selective credit may also be obtained via an externship (VMC 992-317).

There are selectives and electives available related to pathology (including diagnostics), special species, and research, but students also should take the opportunity to gain a firm foundation in basic clinical skills. It may also be possible to get credit for attending a professional meeting (see Conferences, below, and CVM guidelines).

Be sure to check the current listing for Selectives and review the FAQs.

Year 4 Required Rotations

Clinical Year Requirements below effective for the Class of 2018. For questions about past requirements, please consult Student Development.

  • VMB 976: Radiology
  • VMB 977: Anesthesia
  • VMP 977: Autopsy/Clinical Pharmacology
  • VMP 978: Clinical Pathology
  • VMC 939: Small Animal Primary Care
  • VMC 971: SA Medicine (2 blocks)
  • VMC 960: Small Animal Emergency
  • VMC 981: Lab Animal Medicine*
  • VMC 988: Exotic Animal Medicine (required effective for Class of 2019 — previously listed within “One of the Following” below)
  • VMC 955: Lab Animal Extramural**

*exempt if student takes VMC 992 Active Learning in Lab Animal Medicine as selective

**2 blocks required if using Active Learning selective to exempt from taking VMC 981 Lab Animal Med (if not, 1 required)

+One Surgery:

  • VMC 973G: Small Animal Surgery
  • VMC 973O: Small Animal Orthopedics

+One of the Following:

  • VMC 983: Dermatology
  • VMC 982A: Ophthalmology
  • VMC 986: SA Medicine – Advanced

+Two of the Following (Or Other VMP Courses, With Permission):

  • VMP 970: Ruminant Hlth Management I
  • VMP 972: Ruminant Hlth Mngt II (Small Ruminant only)
  • VMC 940: Theriogenology
  • VMP 984: Swine Medicine I
  • VMP 985: Swine Medicine II
  • VMP 990E: Extramural Experiences – Equine or VMP990F: Extramural Experiences – Food Animal/Mixed
  • VMP 982: Poultry Health Management I
  • VMP 983: Poultry Health Management II
  • VMP 987: Ruminant Special Topics

Other Experiences

Employment Opportunities/Externships/Funding

Research experience, preferably involving animals, provides excellent background for pursuing a LAM career (including a residency). This experience is best during a summer, rather than a 2-4 week block. The CVM offers a summer research program for veterinary students, involving work in the lab of a CVM faculty member. Summer Internships

There are also student research grant opportunities (Hitchings, Dodge, Morris, etc.).

Another excellent (paid) summer experience is an ASLAP-sponsored Summer Fellowship in Laboratory Animal Medicine.

Research/LAM Opportunities in North Carolina

Contact Dr. McKeon or the Student Chapter American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners (SCASLAP) for more details on local opportunities.

  • UNC-CH
  • Duke University
  • Wake Forest University
  • East Carolina University

Other Externship Possibilities


Students may benefit from attending a laboratory animal medicine/science conference. Annual meetings to consider include the following. Check websites at end for home pages of these organizations, which have latest information on upcoming meetings.

  • National Meeting of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (5-day meeting in October or November); ASLAP offers travel funds on a competitive basis
  • American Society for Laboratory Animal Practitioners annual meeting coincides with AALAS meeting
  • American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine Annual Forum (4-day meeting in April or May)
  • Annual Conference of the American Veterinary Medical Association (5-day meeting in July, usually with 2 full days of laboratory animal medicine-related topics)
  • The Charles River Short Course on Laboratory Animal Care and Use is offered annually in June, and scholarships may be available.
  • Workshop in Laboratory Animal Medicine (WLAM), sponsored by the North Carolina Academy of Laboratory Animal Medicine (NCALAM) and the North Carolina State Carolina University – College of Veterinary (NCSU-CVM), is offered in May. Check with the CVM Office of Continuing Education.

NCSU-CVM Rounds/Seminars/Journal Clubs

  • CBS 817/818 Advanced Topics in Zoological Medicine 1&2. Usually held on Thursdays from 4:15 – 6:00 PM. Lecture, journal review, case presentations and discussion on zoological species.
  • Clinical Conference: Fridays, 8:00 a.m. Senior students present topics; some on exotic animal medicine.
  • House Officer Seminar: Thursdays, 8:00 a.m. NC State CVM house officers give presentations on a variety of topics.
  • Histopathology Rounds – Fridays, 8:00  a.m.
  • Gross Pathology Rounds – Wednesdays, 12:15 p.m.
  • Research seminars – several ongoing series, as well as guest/invited speakers

Extracurricular Activities

  • Student Chapter ASLAP
  • PATHHEADS Student Pathology Club
  • Wildlife, Avian, Aquatic, and Zoological Medicine Club (WAAZM)
  • Turtle Rescue Team
  • Wild Carnivore Team
  • Invertebrate Medicine Club

Other Useful Information

Recommended Journals

  • Journal of the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science
  • Comparative Medicine
  • Laboratory Animal Practitioner (ASLAP)
  • Lab Animal
  • Laboratory Animals

Recommended Memberships (Web Sites Below)

  • American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners (ASLAP) (student membership)
  • American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS)
  • American Veterinary Medical Association (student membership)
  • Veterinary Information Network (VIN)

Recommended Electronic Mailing List

Useful Internet Sites

Recent/Current Number of Laboratory Animal Medicine Focused Students

  • Class 2013: 5
  • Class 2014: 5
  • Class 2015: 3
  • Class 2016: 1
  • Class 2017: 6
  • Class 2018: 4
  • Class 2019: 5
  • Class 2020: 5
  • Class 2021: 6
  • Class 2022: 3
  • Class 2023: 4
  • Class 2024: 0 declared to date