Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency

Developing the next generation of public health professionals with specialized, vigorous training and hands-on practice

current VPHPM residents standing for a picture


The University of Minnesota's veterinary public health and preventive medicine (VPHPM) residency is a two-year program that allows early- to mid-career veterinarians to gain specialized training in veterinary public health practice.

Two to three veterinarians are hired each year in the cohort-style residency, and the program draws applicants from around the world. VPHPM residency graduates go on to work with government, industry, and academia with many of the graduates obtaining ACVPM diplomat status within two years of completing their residency.

Over the course of the VPHPM residency, residents are assigned to a variety of projects and activities with an emphasis on providing experiences across the full spectrum of teaching, research, and service. Residents work in close collaboration with University public health faculty advisors as well as external VPHPM residency mentors.

In addition to project work, if they haven't completed by the time of being onboard to the program VPHPM residents will pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) taking advantage of the tuition benefit associated with the residency and the world-class academic program offered through the School of Public Health. Semi-annual performance reviews are used to monitor progress, and provide an opportunity for discussion and feedback.

Established in 2002, the VPHPM residency is the first program in the United States to receive recognition from the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Presently, it is one of only three ACVPM-certified training programs.

Residents will be provided experiences that will allow them to gain competence in the following areas:

  • Infectious and zoonotic diseases
  • Food safety and production systems
  • Environmental and occupational health
  • Epidemiology and biostatistics
  • Disease surveillance and management
  • Animal welfare and human animal bond
  • Policy administration
  • Health education and teaching
  • Communication
  • Project management

Residency structure

Residents of the VPHPM program are assigned to an array of teaching, research, and service projects that are intended to provide a variety of public health practice learning opportunities. Projects range from local to international in scope, and involve partnerships with government, corporate enterprises, and University stakeholders. Integration and application of basic science, epidemiology, and population medicine are used to affect policy and educate the public about public health, preventive medicine, animal health, and food safety issues. Assignments are based on a resident's interests as well as the residency program's needs. Residents do not focus exclusively on a single project for any sustained period of time. Rather, residents have a variety of responsibilities spanning multiple species and projects in order to gain a breadth of public health practice experience. Program experiences qualify a resident to sit for American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (ACVPM) boards.

VPHPM residents are hired as staff members at the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety. For applicants without a similar degree, a 75% position is available, providing dedicated time for Masters of Public Health coursework, along with health insurance and tuition benefits.

The program typically trains an average of 4-6 residents simultaneously.


Mentoring is a critical component of the program, and as such, each resident is assigned a mentor who provides guidance throughout the residency. Residents meet regularly with their mentors and the program coordinator to obtain feedback on their performance. They also meet on a semi-annual basis with the residency directors to review their progress in competency areas and discuss their project work.

Melinda Wilkins, DVM, MPH, PhD, ACVPM, is the residency director. Under her leadership, she ensures the successful implementation of the program, guaranteeing the progression of VPHPM residents and meeting competencies. She collaborates closely with the Center administration, coordinating residents' workload and ensuring that all VPHPM resident projects have faculty leadership and oversight. Additionally, she oversees continuous monitoring and evaluation activities for program improvement."



Frequently Asked Questions

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What is veterinary public health and preventive medicine?

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 and preventative medicine (VPHPM). 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 educate 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 VPHPM. Veterinarians with public health credentials serve as leaders of zoonotic disease prevention and control programs, as well as for outbreaks of foodborne 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.

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

No. The VPHPM residency provides training and experiences that will help you prepare for National Board Certification with the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (ACVPM).

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 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 come into the program with at least two or three years of experience.

Does the VPHPM residency application automatically serve as an application to the master of public health program?

No. Interested candidates must apply to both VPMPM residency and the master of public health (MPH) program separately.

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

Yes. Applicants with an MPH may be considered for the VPHPM residency and have the opportunity to work in an appointment up to 100%.

What is the application process?

Information on requirements and the application process can be found on the Interested Candidates page.

What classes are offered?

Only MPH-seeking residents enroll in academic coursework. Course selection should be made in consultation with your MPH academic advisor to determine the most appropriate coursework to meet your career goals and interests.

Will I have a mentor or an advisor?

Mentoring is a critical component of the VPHPM residency. Each incoming resident will be assigned an ACVPM-board certified faculty mentor. The mentor provides guidance to the student throughout their 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.

VPHPM residents pursuing an MPH 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 in the School of Public Health, who works with students on their course selection, sequencing, credit load, and MPH project approval. Residents may also work with an MPH project advisor—who works with students on their MPH project, specifically—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 on a variety of projects and activities.
  • Residents without an MPH or advanced degree are expected to pursue an MPH degree during their residency.
  • Residents are expected to assist with teaching public health and preventive medicine topics to veterinary students. Residents also assist with other public health-related courses and field trips.
  • Residents are required to help coordinate and participate in the professional training of veterinary students as part of the required veterinary public health rotation.
  • Residents are encouraged to take advantage of conferences, workshops, and community outreach opportunities available through the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety 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 placed 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-DVM training program that is tailored to provide public practice experiences in veterinary preventive medicine, public health, and population medicine practice. 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.

Are there benefits beyond salary for VPHPM residents?

In addition to salary, the University provides low-cost health, dental, and disability insurance, as well as paid vacation and sick time. Tuition costs for the MPH are covered through the residency. However, 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. 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 strongly discouraged.

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.