Oncology Residency

GOALS

The overall goals of the program are:

  • To become familiar with all neoplasias afflicting dogs and cats and to be able to logically correlate clinical data in order to formulate correct treatment plans.
    To provide a firm understanding of the underlying pathophysiological basis of disease.
  • To provide a complete understanding of the rationale for chemotherapy use as well as a solid understanding of the mechanism of action, resistance factors, adverse effects and safe handling and administration techniques of commonly used chemotherapeutics.
  • To master the art and science of complete patient care and to appreciate the economic and emotional factors involved in the health care of small animals. To appreciate the importance of the human animal bond and the role of animals in clients’ lives.
  • To develop the art of interpersonal communications for proper colleague and client relationships.
  • To allow the resident an opportunity to develop teaching skills as they as they participate in the educational training of veterinary students.
  • To allow the resident to complete a research project, to draft the results in a manuscript suitable for publication, and to present the research finding to the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine and at a national meeting.
  • To provide the resident instruction and guidance in experimental design, grant preparation, manuscript writing, and submission for publication in referred journals.
Historical Background

The Medical Oncology Service at the University of Florida has been in existence since 2005. Our first resident was enrolled in July 2006 and our service has grown exponentially such that a second resident has started in July 2008 and ultimately a third resident will be added. We are also one of only two programs to offer a surgical oncology fellowship.

Program Description

The Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences offers a 3-year residency program in medical oncology to prepare talented veterinarians for a career in academic veterinary medicine, specialty practice or industry. Emphasis is placed on clinical oncology, teaching, and clinical research in preparation for boards.

Clinical Oncology

The medical oncology referral service is a new hospital service currently staffed by 2 medical oncologists and two surgical oncologists. There are 3 medical oncology technicians and 1 surgical technician. We have two residents on service with plans to expand the service to operate with 3 residents staggered over the 3 year duration of the residency. Currently, the service operates as a system with one faculty member and resident on at all time. New case workups are done on Tuesdays and Thursdays and chemotherapy appointments are seen on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In house and phone consultations are done daily as required. This system is subject to change such that we will stagger new case receiving and chemotherapy days for each resident such that the service will offer new case workups and chemotherapy appointments on a daily basis Monday through Friday.

Referral cases make up the majority of the medical oncology caseload, but a significant number of in house transfers can be expected. Emergency cases are seen by the hospital’s triage service. After-hours emergency care (UFVH patients and emergency referral cases) is shared by 10-15 house officers. Medical oncology residents participate in this emergency roster during the first 2 years of their residency only.

Residents spend the majority of their residency on the medical oncology service. Additional required rotations include radiation oncology and clinical pathology. Currently, UF does not offer fractionated radiation therapy on site. Our patients are treated with a linear accelerator at an off site clinic located in Tampa or where applicable by steriotactic radiation at the McKnight Brain Center across the road. Arrangements have been made for the one month radiation oncology requirement to be done at either, North Carolina State or the University of California, Davis Veterinary Schools. Plans are being made for the installation of an on site linear accelerator. Elective rotations may be chosen from other services within the hospital (radiology, cardiology, neurology, internal medicine, ophthalmology, dermatology, pathology, zoological medicine) or out rotations at referral hospitals, other colleges, or human hospitals.

Organized rounds and seminars in support of the residency training program include daily student rounds, daily house officer rounds, bi-weekly cardiology rounds, bi-weekly oncology journal club/Seminar, bi-weekly Clinicians Problem Conference, weekly Resident Seminar, and a multitude of other seminars and rounds presented by other departments and at the Shands Medical Center nearby. In addition, each resident is expected to attend and participate in the weekly resident seminar series and to present one seminar per year.

The University of Florida Veterinary Hospitals houses state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment including endoscopy, laparoscopy, ultrasonography, CT, MRI, nuclear scintigraphy, and fluoroscopy. Unique strengths in therapy at the UFVH include invasive cardiology, nuclear medicine, stereotactic radiation therapy, and feline kidney transplantation. Well trained animal nurses function around the clock to provide excellent patient care in the intensive care unit. The University of Florida Shands Medical Center is located a short walk from the UFVH, and provides a rich resource of collaborative and research opportunities. The Medical Oncology Service is staffed by faculty with diverse backgrounds, including one double boarded in medical and radiation oncology, one double boarded in internal medicine and oncology and one boarded surgeon with specialized training in surgical oncology (Colorado State University surgical oncology fellowship).

Teaching

Teaching skills are developed in the clinic, in lectures prepared for the Resident’s Seminar Series, in didactic lectures given to veterinary students, and in student laboratories. The resident seminar series is presented weekly and is designed to provide residents an opportunity to review and to present scientific material. Each resident will present one seminar yearly. The topic must be chosen at least 3 months in advance to allow ample time to prepare for this seminar.

Additional organized rounds and seminars in support of the resident clinical and teaching programs include daily Medical Oncology Rounds, bi-weekly Oncology Journal Club/Seminar, bi-weekly oncology dedicated cytology rounds as well as weekly Medicine Seminars, and bi-weekly Cardiology Rounds. The menu of rounds and seminars is tailored to assist residents in literature review and board preparation and to expose them to a broad range of clinical and academic experiences. Residents are also encouraged to attend medical grand rounds and to rotate through the human oncology service at the nearby College of Medicine (Shands Medical Center) as time permits.

Research:

All residents at the UFVH are required to complete a research project in the biological sciences. The form of such projects is highly variable but all involve a literature search, with subsequent development of a hypothesis and appropriate methodology to address the specific aims, and submission of a grant proposal. A manuscript on the project, suitable for publication, must be prepared and submitted to the oncology faculty in order to complete the residency program satisfactorily. Time for completion of the research project is scheduled during “off-clinic” weeks.
Residents also present their projects with results and conclusions to the faculty and at a national meeting. Intramural funding (up to $2,000) is available on a competitive basis in the fall of each year for these residency research projects. Oncology residents compete for these funds by researching literature and writing a proposal. These grant proposals are evaluated and ranked by the College Research Committee.

Projects must obviously be realistic in terms of achievable goals and financial feasibility. Good planning done well in advance, is clearly critical. The project is intended to be an entry into the world of scientific investigation and is believed to lead to better trained residents who are equipped to make significant contributions to veterinary medicine.

Financial support is available to assist with costs associated with travel to a national meeting and for miscellaneous academic expenses, photocopying and development of teaching materials.

Library

A wide selection of current journals is available in the Reading Room of the UF Veterinary Hospitals. The main Health Science Library is located in the Health Science Center within the College of Medicine; roughly a 10-minute walk from the College of Veterinary Medicine. Each resident is required to be familiar with pertinent articles in the current literature.

Resident Selection Procedure

First-year residents will be recruited from high-quality internship programs and rare exception will be made for those candidates with exceptional experience in practice without a formal internship. A DVM degree or its equivalent is a prerequisite. Medical Oncology faculty and residents evaluate applications, and final selection of the resident is made through the Veterinary Intern-Resident Matching program. Selection is based on:

  • The individual’s curriculum vitae, including college transcripts.
  • A letter of intent containing the applicant’s statement of interest and goals.
  • Reference letters from a minimum of three people.
  • The quality of the internship and other prior veterinary experience.
  • An optional interview. Candidates interested in interviewing with the faculty and visiting our hospital should contact Dr. David Lurie, 352-392-2235 ext 5255, Fax 352-392-6125, luried@mail.vetmed.ufl.edu. Because we appreciate the high costs involved in interviewing, this is not required or expected of candidates. However, we strongly encourage this step and welcome anyone wishing to spend time with us to meet the faculty and residents and to see the facilities.
Employment and Benefits

The stipend for residents is currently $24,750; incremental annual raises of $500 are awarded in the second and third year. Residents will receive medical insurance for themselves. Family insurance is available for an additional fee paid for by the resident. The College of Veterinary Medicine will provide Professional Liability Insurance (malpractice insurance coverage) for $1,000,000.

Residents accrue annual leave at the rate of 15 work days for each full year of employment. Annual leave may only be granted for the amount of time accrued but may be taken as earned. Leave must be taken in the year in which it was earned; unused leave does not “roll over” to the next year. Residents will not be paid for any unused leave at the time of their termination or completion of their program. Schedules for vacations should be established at times arranged by the Program Coordinator. Vacation time is to be taken when the resident is not scheduled to be on clinic or emergency duty. Requests must be made on the standard University Leave Form well in advance, and must be signed by the Small Animal Medicine Service Chief and the Chair of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. Except in unusual circumstances, approval will not be granted for annual leave during the final 3 weeks of the residency.

The UF Veterinary Hospitals provides $500 as an academic development fund for each resident. These monies may be used to purchase journal subscriptions, to pay dues for annual veterinary society memberships, or to help defray the cost of attending national veterinary meetings such as the ACVIM.