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Focus Area for Laboratory Animal Medicine

Description of the Focus Area

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 currently high demand for laboratory animal veterinarians, and short supply. This 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. 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, as is pathology, and research is at the heart of LAM, even if the lab animal vet is not directly engaged in his/her own research program. Students should consider developing strengths in these and/or other areas of “subspecialization,” such as surgery, or large animal or special species husbandry and medicine.

Recent/Current Number of Laboratory Animal Focused Students


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

Year 1-3 Requirements

Introduction to Laboratory Animal Medicine (VMC 991-002) is 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. It is required for the LAM Focus Area.

Year 1-3 Recommended Courses


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 992-002). 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 992 006).


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).

Recommended Selectives for Laboratory Animal Medicine Focus

Be sure to check the current listing for Selectives and review the FAQ's

Course Number






Every Year

VMB 991 Introduction to Research at the CVM Dr. Breen 1,2,3 Fall 1 *
VMB 991 Avian Anatomy & Physiology Dr. Smallwood 1,2,3 Spring 1 *
VMB 991 Developmental Toxicology and Teratology Dr. Nascone-Yoder 2,3 Fall Both *
VMB 991 Transgenics Dr. Jeff Yoder 1,2,3 Spring 1 *
VMC 991 Advanced Ferret Medicine Dr. Harms 1,2,3 Fall 2 Odd
VMC 991 Animal Behavior and Welfare Dr. Sherman 2,3 Fall 2 *
VMC 991 Advanced Fish Medicine Dr. Lewbart 1,2,3 Fall 1 *
VMC 991 Primate Medicine Dr. Stoskopf 1,2,3 Spring 2 Even
VMC 991 Sample Collection and Interpretation Dr. Williams 1,2,3 Spring 1 *
VMP 991 Necropsy Pathology Dr. Meuten 2,3 Both 1 *
VMP 991 Special Topics in Pathology Dr. Law 2,3 Both 1 and/or 2 *
VMP 992 PCR-based Diag. Of Bacterial Disease Dr. Orndorff 1,2,3 Fall Both *

Fourth Year Required Rotations

Required Rotations

+ One of the following:

+ One of the following:

+ Two of the following (or other VMP course(s), with permission):

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

Research/LAM Opportunities in RTP

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

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.

NCSU-CVM rounds/seminars/journal clubs

Extracurricular activities

Other Useful Information

Recommended journals

Recommended memberships(web sites below)

Recommended electronic mailing list

Useful Internet Sites