Career in Veterinary Radiology/Radiation Oncology? Starting Early

High School Students

If you are thinking of a career in veterinary medicine, it’s never a bad idea to start early. Working with veterinarians early-on can give you an idea if the profession is right for you.  Veterinary experience also provides a big boost for admission to veterinary school.  Remember, there are MANY opportunities available to veterinarians, not just the most common private practice options.  The AAVMC provides an excellent list HERE.

College Students

Maintaining good grades while still working in veterinary-related fields or life sciences is crucial to overcoming the hurdle of the veterinary school admission process.  The AVMA provides a good check list in their Veterinary School Admission 101 article.

Veterinary Students

You’ve made it to veterinary school! As you learn all the “hats” we wear as veterinarians, you will soon determine that veterinary radiologists and radiation oncologists are the smartest, kindest, most-relatable, and most-modest of all your professors… So how do you become one of them?

  1. Spend Time in Radiology. Get to know radiology departments: the technicians, the residents, the radiologists.  Even if radiology is not your life-long goal, the radiology service will be important as you approach clinics!  Be nice… bring donuts.
  2. Work on a Project with Radiology Mentorship. The yearly ACVR conference provides opportunities for students to present cases in poster format.  Ask your mentors if they have any partially completed manuscripts that are just rotting away on their hard drive.  Write-up a “What’s Your Diagnosis?” for the Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association and have a radiologist mentor.
  3. Don’t forget to be a well-rounded veterinarian.  Work hard in other rotations too.  Understanding internal medicine, surgery, and all other disciplines will inevitably make you a better radiologist/radiation oncologist.
  4. Visit other Radiology Services and Teaching Programs.  Elective time during your fourth-year could be spent seeing how other radiologists work.  You can visit other universities or private practices that have a residency program.  You can take the road with a traveling radiologist or sonographer.  Allow them to place a name with a face.  Tell them of your interest in becoming a radiologist.
Radiology Senior Veterinary Student Award

The American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR) offers an annual award to a senior veterinary student at each veterinary school who excels in clinical radiology and/or radiation oncology. The award, to be presented in the form of a certificate at your annual Senior Awards Banquet, includes:

  1. A one-year online subscription to Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, the official journal of the American College of Veterinary Radiology.
  2. A one-year membership in all ACVR Societies (Ultrasound, CT/MRI, Nuclear Medicine, Large Animal Diagnostic Imaging).
  3. Free registration at ONE of the next three annual ACVR Scientific Conferences.

More information on how your veterinary university can participate.


Working in an internship or large private practice with a high caseload is a pre-requisite to application into an ACVR Radiology or Radiation Oncology Residency Program.  See the Radiology Program Essentials and the Radiation Oncology Residency Training Program Guidelines for more information.  Remember all those people you worked with as a veterinary student and young veterinarians?  Call them… you will need Letters of Recommendation!


Valentin S. Janvier. Cornell University. Photo by Ian R. Porter