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Behavior Medicine Residency

Objectives | Faculty and Staff | Prerequisites and Applications | Employment and Benefits | Orientation | Advisors and Mentoring | Clinical Service Responsibilities | Teaching Responsibilities | Educational Opportunities | Graduate Program | Research and Scholarly Activity | Case Reports | Evaluation | Specialty College Requirements | Board Certification | Expectations |


  1. To provide the resident with the opportunity to become proficient in diagnostic and therapeutic methods in behavioral medicine.
  2. To provide experience in the clinical teaching of veterinary students participating in the clinical behavior rotation, as well as contributing to the didactic teaching of pre-clinical veterinary students.
  3. To provide opportunity to design and implement one or more research projects in the area of clinical animal behavior. This research is expected to lead to a publication, in at least one of which the resident is first author, in an approved, peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  4. To provide opportunity to communicate clinical findings and concepts to members of the veterinary profession through case reports, scientific articles, seminars, or lectures.
  5. To provide exposure to other clinical services in the OSU VMC, including but not limited to small animal internal medicine, neurology, dermatology, and community practice. Participation in and rotation through these services would be arranged with the clinicians in those services.
  6. To provide opportunity for advanced knowledge in behavior-related subject areas including the psychology of learning, ethology, species-typical behavior patterns, neurobiology of behavior, psychopharmacology, human-animal interactions and animal welfare, behavioral endocrinology, and other areas through participation in clinical rounds and self-directed study.
  7. To prepare the resident to practice veterinary behavioral medicine in an academic or private practice setting, or to pursue an advanced research degree in animal behavior.
  8. To permit the resident to satisfy the requirements necessary for application for the examination by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB).
  9. Complete a Master of Science degree in a specific area of research endeavor related to behavior.

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Faculty and Staff


Current Residents

Registered Veterinary Technician

Dr. Meghan Herron, DVM, DACVB

Dr. Leanne Lilly, DVM

Dr. Margaret O'Brian, DVM

Laura Donaldson


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Prerequisites and Applications

  • All potential residents must meet the minimum requirements and qualifications (see Residency Program HandbookCVM Graduate Program Handbook and Graduate School Handbook.
  • Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. the Ohio State University cannot sponsor or process F, J, or H-1B visa applications for resident positions. We also cannot accept TN visas. Successful applicants must be available to report to The Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences no later than the scheduled beginning of the program.
  • Applicants must be graduates of an AVMA-recognized College or School of Veterinary Medicine and have completed a one-year rotating internship or acceptable equivalent clinical experience.
  • All requirements must be met to hold and maintain a limited license to practice Veterinary medicine in the State of Ohio – click here for information on licensure requirements.
  • Currently admission requirements include:
    • a minimum 3.0 GPA for all undergraduate coursework 
    • a minimum 3.0 GPA for professional (veterinary degree) studies;
    • a minimum 3.3 GPA for all graduate coursework;

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 Employment and Benefits (see Residency Program Handbook )

  • Salary
  • Health insurance
  • Travel allowance
  • Personal + Professional days leave (from policy)
  • External consultation and employment
  • Licensure

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  • During the first week of the residency program, all incoming residents participate in a comprehensive orientation program to introduce them to the department, college, and university, to complete necessary documentation, and to facilitate integration into our program and activities.
  • The Behavioral Medicine Service will provide new residents with the following information as part of orientation:
    • Roster of all Small Animal faculty and residents
    • Behavior Medicine Resident orientation document
    • Resident Performance Evaluation
    • Behavior Medicine Senior Student In-House Elective Rotation Syllabus
    • Clinic Schedule

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Advisors and Mentoring

Academic advisor
The principal academic advisor is Dr. Herron.

Masters committee

Once the specific area of research is selected, an Advisory committee will be formed that will consist of the academic advisor and any other faculty members who may be able to provide advice in the development of a specific research project, during the project and to completion of the study. Typically, the Advisory committee serves as the Examination committee for the Masters defense. These committees must consist of at least 2 graduate faculty members.

Case management is carried out with the guidance and collaboration of Dr. Herron.

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Clinical Service Responsibilities

  • The resident spends approximately 132 weeks in scheduled clinics within the Veterinary Teaching Hospital over a 3-year period.
  • Clinical experience includes primary care (referral) of small animal behavior disorders including, but not limited to human-directed aggression, inter-pet aggression, separation anxiety, inappropriate elimination, fears, phobias, compulsive behaviors, and cognitive dysfunction.
  • Additional clinical experience is obtained through 2 week rotations on 2 or more of the following services: internal medicine, neurology, dermatology, and (if requested) community practice. These rotations should be coordinated through the attending clinicians of each service.
  • Clinical rotations facilitate development of clinical proficiency, clinical skills, and knowledge of medicine through exposure to a wide variety of cases at all levels of complexity. This goal is facilitated by location of the teaching hospital in a large metropolitan area that provides a rich variety of case material as well as a referral base that includes Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Michigan.
  • Residents are responsible for all client communication follow up for each clinical case seen, including follow up that may occur while the resident is off of clinical behavior service. This follow up includes 3 months of unlimited email and phone follow up from clients and a final follow up contact at the 6 month point.
  • Case rounds will be held with Dr. Herron at her discretion before and after clinical service days.
  • Residents are expected to keep a log of all clinical cases observed and conducted by the resident. This log will include patient signalment, diagnoses, follow up contact points, medications dispensed, and 6 month outcome.
  • Residents must complete their medical records in a timely fashion, preferably at the time of patient discharge. Please diagnose charts promptly.
  • Residents should be available for internal consultation from other clinical services during all clinic and non-clinic days, unless on vacation, away for business leave, or on rotation with another clinical service. Dr. Herron take consults when the resident is unavailable or otherwise occupied.
  • Residents must communicate with referring veterinarians in a timely fashion. Referring veterinarians should receive a telephone call within 1-2 days of the patient’s visit. Copies of hospital release instructions are distributed to medical records, the referring veterinarian and the owner. It is the resident’s responsibility to be sure a copy of the Release Instructions is placed in the Referral box for faxing.
  • Time off clinics - To facilitate research opportunities, residents are given personal enrichment blocks during which they are not seeing cases on behavior service. Enrichment time is provided to allow pursuit of independent study, research, case report writing, publication, or other clinical service rotations. The offservice time available for each resident enrolled in the 3-year residency program is 24 weeks. All personal time (vacation) and professional leave is taken during off-clinics time. Off-clinic residents are expected to come to work every day and primarily perform their off-clinic activities on the veterinary campus.
  • They must still check their phone messages at least once daily and handle all follow-up communications with previous clients. A special request can be made for up to 4 additional weeks off clinics – this must be justified for completion of resident research studies or other acceptable activities. It should be noted that residents will not be allowed to accrue this “off clinic” time such that is taken all at once in the 3rd year for boards preparation or the like.
  • All leave of absences (Personal and Professional Leave) require approval of Dr. Herron and the Service Head using the required University form (available from the Vet Clin Sci Departmental office).

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Teaching Responsibilities

  • Teaching responsibilities include clinical teaching of senior veterinary students assigned to the in-house behavior medicine clinical service elective.
  • During appointment days, the resident should strive for a balance between efficiency and the learning needs of the students. Prior to the start of appointments, the resident will meet with students to review their problem lists, differential diagnoses, and questions that the students would like to ask the owner during the appointment. The resident will help the students fine-tune their questions so that the appointment can run efficiently and the students can learn appropriate communication skills, such as asking open-ended questions and politely prompting owners to provide the details necessary for forming an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Rounds should end promptly at the start of appointment times so that there is no client wait time upon arrival.
  • Residents also participate in teaching small animal technical skills to pre-clinical veterinary students during laboratories. All residents are required to teach in the Introduction to Animal Behavior and Handling laboratories as assigned.
  • Interested residents will be given the opportunity to develop lecture skills by preparing and delivering selected formal classroom lectures to professional students.
  • Project Presentations are held on the second Thursday or Friday of each 2-week block – time and location TBD each week, depending on clinical schedule. Project presentations involve formal presentations by each student in the in-house behavior medicine elective rotation. Both Dr. Herron and the resident will supervise presentations.

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Educational Opportunities

  • As part of their MS degree program, residents have to complete 30 hours of didactic coursework. Courses are offered at the College of Veterinary Medicine as well as by other colleges at The Ohio State University. Courses that may be taken include advanced animal behavior, research methods, statistics, behavioral genetics, and psychopharmacology, amongst others.
  • Numerous specialty seminars and conferences are available to residents.
  • A required weekly Clinicopathologic Conference (Tuesday 8-9 AM in VH 1103) provides an opportunity for residents to enrich their clinical problem-solving skills.
  • Dr. Herron will hold weekly journal club rounds with the resident every Wednesday at 9am.
  • Residents are strongly encouraged to attend the annual AVSAB/ACVB Symposium in conjunction with the AVMA Annual Convention, as well as the behavior tracks at the Midwestern Veterinary Conference.

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Graduate Program (see Residency Program Handbook and, CVM Graduate Program Handbook

  • Residents in MS and PhD programs must successfully pass and complete 20 didactic graded credit hours of graduate courses and 10 non-didactic credit hours of graduate courses as a requirement for completion of their degree. Residents in MS programs must complete a minimum of 30 credits total. In the past, residents have fulfilled their didactic coursework requirements by the end of the 2nd year or early in the 3rd year of their programs.
  • Original research or clinical investigation leading to scholarly publications is required by the department. Significant research leading to an MS thesis is standard for residents. Residents in the MS program can request for the non-thesis option after arrival; Residents can request a transfer to the non-thesis MSc program up until the end of the spring semester of their second year of a three-year residency program. 

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Research and Scholarly Activity

  • As required by the ACVB, a research project will be planned and executed by the resident during the 3-year training period. Dr. Herron will assist the resident
  • The research advisor will assist in identifying potential research projects and provide guidance in preparing proposals to seek intra- and extramural funding early in the residency. The research is typically hypothesis-driven and may be clinical or shelter-based depending on the selected area of study.
  • The MS research has to be completed and defended prior to completion of the 3-year training program, and granting of a residency certificate is dependent on successful completion of the MS degree.
  • The resident is required to submit at least one scholarly paper to a refereed journal prior to completion of the residency program.
  • Interested residents will have the opportunity to collaborate in research conducted by Dr. Herron.

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Case Reports

  • Submission of 1 formal case report that will be review by Dr. Herron prior to submission will be required before April 1 of the second year of residency.
  • Two additional formal case reports without review by Dr. Herron are required for submission by October 1 of the final year of residency.
  • All case reports should follow the strict guidelines provided by the ACVB.
  • All case reports should follow the strict guidelines provided by the ACVB.

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  • Residents receive verbal feedback from Dr. Herron on clinical duty during each clinical rotation. Dr. Herron will perform a formal evaluation every 6 months, with additional input from clinicians in other specialties with whom the resident has interacted.
  • A formal resident evaluation form (as adopted by the Graduate Studies Committee) is completed, presented to the resident for discussion. Once finalized the evaluation is distributed to the resident, Department Chair, Service Head and the Graduate Studies Committee Chair as a matter of record.

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Specialty College Requirements

Each resident must register with the American College of Veterinary Behavior within 90 days of beginning the residency.
Information about registration and the General Information Guidelines of ACVB can be found at:

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Board Certification

  • We offer a comprehensive didactic and clinical training program that we believe provides excellent preparation for successful completion of the ACVB board certifying examination.
  • Residents will be encouraged to participate in board preparation courses offered at other institutions during the 3 years of residency. This will be particularly important in obtaining experience in non-companion animal species.

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What we expect of the resident:

  • Residents must provide service to the patients and owners of the Veterinary Medical Center and be active participants in the teaching and research missions of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences.
  • Behavioral Medicine Clinic appointments are of 1-3 hours’ duration, including a behavioral interview with pet owners, physical examination, and laboratory diagnostics, discussion of treatment plan and demonstration of behavior modification. The resident is also expected to formulate, discuss and demonstrate treatment approaches and behavior modification.
  • Residents are responsible for seeing clinical appointments one Saturday per month, unless otherwise specified by Dr. Herron.
  • Residents will be expected to see late afternoon clinical cases 1-2 days per week to accommodate exam room space and client needs.
  • Residents must be readily available during clinics so that students can find them easily. A major part of the clinical teaching commitment involves residents teaching students both in clinics and during rounds.
  • Patient management decisions ultimately are the responsibility of Dr. Herron. Advice from faculty and other residents during rounds is encouraged and should be given due consideration by the attending clinician.
  • The Behavioral Medicine Clinic functions as a team. Students, residents and Dr. Herron should work together to provide optimal patient care, client communication, and student learning.
  • Consultations with other specialty services should be sought as needed. The recommendations of the consulting experts usually are followed unless there is some extenuating circumstance. Residents should obtain the approval of their supervising faculty clinician before choosing not to follow a consultant’s recommendation. It is best to notify the consultant verbally when anticipating the need for a consultation. Be sure to completely fill out the general consultation request form.
  • The Behavioral Medicine Clinic works in close conjunction with the Community Practice Service. The resident will be expected to partake in the perpetuation of low-stress handling techniques utilized on this service.
  • Residents should develop a comprehensive knowledge of the veterinary behavioral medicine literature in order to provide a sound scientific basis for their medical decisions. Regular use of books, journal articles, and on-line databases (e.g. PubMed) will facilitate this process. Medical information management is an essential skill for any clinical specialist. Personal clinical experience is important, but should not be used in a vacuum.
  • Residents must treat all team members (e.g., interns, veterinary students, technicians, reception staff, laboratory staff, etc.) with respect and collegiality.
  • Students pay tuition and hospital staff are permanent employees who constitute some of our program’s most valuable resources. If conflicts arise, they should be resolved with the guidance of attending faculty, faculty advisor, service head, hospital director (for hospital staff), or department chair (for veterinary students or faculty) as dictated by the situation.
  • Residents are responsible for complying with all university, college, and departmental policies, including official university policies on discrimination, sexual harassment, romantic relationships, academic misconduct, and financial misconduct.
  • Although residents are expected to take considerable initiative and assume a tremendous amount of responsibility for patient management, they must also recognize their limitations based on level of clinical experience and professional development. A residency is a training program and residents should actively seek advice and assistance from senior faculty when it is in the best interests of the patient and client. Consultation with faculty can serve as a valuable learning experience.
  • The resident is expected to participate in all new and follow-up out-patient cases of the Behavior Clinic with the exception of planned vacations, attendance at professional meetings, absence due to illness or special arrangement, or when enrolled in other services. The resident will also participate in other behavior services offered through the OSU VMC, including but not limited to Puppy Kindergarten, Shelter Enrichment Team, and Behavior Club activities. For the first three months, the resident will participate in consultations with Dr. Herron, contributing to analysis of cases and formulation of treatment approaches.
  • Thereafter the resident will have primary patient care and case responsibility, under the regular supervision of Dr. Herron.
  • The behavior caseload of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic is approximately 300 new cases per year (5-10 cases per week) with dogs and cats. The resident will likely see over 400 new cases during the three-year residency. Telephone and e-mail follow-ups of existing cases are expected. The resident will have opportunities for both brief and extended telephone or fax consultations with veterinarians and other animal health professionals, as well as answering queries from pet owners.
  • The resident will be expected to respond to telephone queries and questions routinely referred to the behavior clinician or resident. The resident is expected to take primary responsibility for such consultations as needed, under the supervision of Dr. Herron. In compliance with ACVB guidelines, formal behavior consultations will require an in-clinic visit with the animal in order to appropriately establish a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
  • The resident will be expected to engage in considerable self-study using textbooks, review and data-based scientific papers as recommended by the diplomate and as suggested by the reading list of the ACVB. Self-study will include learning theory, ethology, psychopharmacology and endocrinology. The residency will focus on behavioral science but will also include related disciplines of anatomy, clinical pathology, ethology, internal medicine, neurology, neuroscience, neurosurgery, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and psychology.

What the resident can expect of his/her mentor:

  • Availability for evaluation and advice on primary cases and on cases submitted for consultation from other services.
  • On-floor availability for advice during clinic receiving.
  • Active participation during sit-down rounds.
  • Availability to complete consults with resident or to critique consults performed by resident.
  • Availability to review referral letters and client discharge instructions as necessary (especially during year one of the residency program).
  • Provision of timely feedback to the resident about their clinical performance.
  • Timely completion of the standardized resident evaluation forms.
  • Participation in formal resident evaluations made at 6 months and yearly thereafter.
  • The clinical advisor provides guidance and suggestions to the resident as needed.
  • The academic advisor provides guidance in development of research proposal, obtaining funding, carrying out research, analyzing results, and writing and defending the MS thesis, and submitting manuscripts for publication.

Click here to contact the VCS Resident Education Program Coordinator with Questions

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Updated 9/10/18