Training Programmes

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A European College of Veterinary Microbiology (ECVM) residency programme is an approved training programme that allows a graduate veterinarian to acquire in-depth knowledge of veterinary microbiology and its supporting specialties under the guidance and supervision of Diplomate(s) of the ECVM.


The overall aims of the residency programme are to:

  • Provide the resident with broadly-based theoretical and practical experience in veterinary microbiology;
  • promote high quality training in the discipline of veterinary microbiology;
  • provide the resident with the opportunity to pursue career goals (such as teaching, research and diagnostic veterinary microbiology) in academia, industry or public service;
  • meet the training requirements of the ECVM Executive Committee for candidates to take the ECVM certifying examination;
  • be able to produce precise and concise reports and manuscripts, including analysis of data and valid interpretations and conclusions, of a standard commensurate with publications in a peer reviewed journal.


The veterinary microbiology specialist (“the specialist”) should be:

  • Knowledgeable about all aspects of the curriculum;
  • clinically adept and aware of safety regulations;
  • capable of providing sound continuing professional development;
  • capable of offering sound advice to general practitioners, animal research institutions, etc;
  • capable of training both residents and undergraduates;
  • able to conduct research;
  • able to further the speciality;
  • able to manage a clinical/academic microbiology unit.

Knowledge, Skills and Competencies Required

In relation to knowledge, the Diplomates should be veterinarians who have demonstrated:

  1. A systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of facts, principles, theories and practices, which is at the forefront of their area of professional practice;
  2. a high moral and ethical standard with regard to his/her contribution to the protection of animal health and welfare, human health and the environment;
  3. willingness to maintain up-to-date knowledge through congresses and literature;
  4. the ability to be acquainted with the structure, objectives, approaches and problems of the veterinary profession and specifically with regard to veterinary microbiology;
  5. the ability to keep abreast of new developments in the speciality and become familiar with new methods, before applying these in practice;
  6. understanding of the limitations of the speciality of veterinary microbiology;
  7. understanding of the possibilities that other specialties may have to offer;
  8. familiarity with the potential of multidisciplinary cooperation;
  9. awareness of current E.U. and national regulations with regard to all aspects of veterinary microbiology;
  10. the ability to conceptualise, design and implement research projects relevant to their own professional practice for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of veterinary microbiology;
  11. a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced professional enquiry to support all the above.

In relation to skills, the Diplomates should be veterinarians who have demonstrated ability to:

  1. Perform at a high level of professional expertise in the speciality area of veterinary microbiology including the ability to make informed judgements on non-routine and complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data;
  2. use a full range of investigative procedures and techniques to define and refine problems in a way that renders them amenable to the application of evidence-based approaches to their solution;
  3. use patient safety knowledge to reduce harm and complications;
  4. communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist clients and audiences;
  5. act professionally in the provision of customised and optimal solutions to problems with regard to animals, clients, colleagues, public health and the environment;
  6. apply high level knowledge and skills at the forefront of the specialist area of veterinary microbiology to their own professional work;
  7. approach problems in an analytic, scientific way and attempt to find solutions;
  8. assign priorities to identified problems;
  9. use modern standards of skills and equipment;
  10. find required information quickly;
  11. organise all aspects of his/her work efficiently and effectively.

In relation to competences, the Diplomates should be veterinarians who have demonstrated ability to:

  1. Perform at a high level of competency through teaching, research and practice in the speciality of veterinary microbiology;
  2. carry out their responsibilities safely and ethically;
  3. create, evaluate, interpret and apply, through clinical studies or original research, new knowledge at the forefront of their professional area, of a quality to satisfy peer review, and merit publication and presentation to professional audiences;
  4. promote, within academic and professional contexts, technological, social or cultural advancement in a knowledge based society;
  5. promote aptitude and proficiency in the field of veterinary microbiology;
  6. continue to undertake research and/or clinical studies in the field of veterinary microbiology at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas or approaches in the speciality;
  7. develop their professional practice and produce a contribution to professional knowledge;
  8. maintain both professional expertise and research through advanced scholarship;
  9. develop applied research relevant to their professional area and other scientific activities in order to contribute to the quality of the speciality of veterinary microbiology.

In relation to general microbiology, the Diplomate should:

  1. Be familiar with the nomenclature and broad taxonomy of microbial organisms;
  2. be familiar with the principles and the methods of microbial identification;
  3. have knowledge of comparative (human) microbiology and its bearing on veterinary microbiology.

With respect to the microbial pathogens of veterinary interest, the Diplomate should:

  1. Have a thorough knowledge of their biology, including where relevant that of their vectors;
  2. understand the respective host-pathogen interactions;
  3. have a clear understanding of the mechanisms of action and of the effectiveness of anti- microbial agents as well as of the factors that result in antimicrobial resistance.

With respect to the microbial diseases of veterinary interest, the Diplomate should:

  1. Have up-to-date knowledge of their epizootiology and their impact;
  2. have in-depth knowledge of the measures applied to control infectious diseases of animals.

In relation to applied veterinary microbiology, The Diplomate should:

  1. Be familiar with the clinical presentation of microbial diseases and be competent in clinical examination, sampling and the respective laboratory investigation and control;
  2. have in-depth knowledge of the diagnostic methods and their technical characteristics such as sensitivity, specificity, minimum detection limit, repeatability, reproducibility, predictive value;
  3. be competent in the handling, transport and storage of potentially infectious biological material, including compliance with health and safety regulations in the laboratory and in transit;
  4. contribute to national and international records and databases providing knowledge about the prevalence and spread of microbial pathogens and their respective diseases among animals;
  5. be aware of current regulatory developments with regard to animal health and welfare, and antimicrobial usage;
  6. co-operate with specialists and colleagues in other related disciplines.

In relation to research in veterinary microbiology, The Diplomate should:

  1. Understand the principles of scientific methodology, hypothesis generation and testing;
  2. have a basic knowledge of statistical methods, including the ability to design experiments that will achieve statistically meaningful results with due regard for animal welfare;
  3. be familiar with legislation affecting research, in particular ethical approval and animal experimentation.

Types of Residency Programme

The residency programmes must contain components of each field within veterinary microbiology (refer to Appendix II.B “Specific Activities”), and can be Standard or Alternate:

  • Standard Residency Programme (SRP)

This comprises an integrated programme specifically for the purpose of preparing candidates for the ECVM certifying examination, conducted mainly at one site. The programme must be approved by the Education Committee after application by the Residency Programme Director, following the procedure described in Section II, three months in advance of the first resident commencing. Approval of a residency programme shall last for five years for any number of residents commencing within that time. Residency training programmes must be submitted for renewed approval every five years. A list of approved residency programmes is maintained on the ECVM website. This is the preferred route for resident training and potential Residency Directors are encouraged to develop such programmes wherever possible.

  • Alternate Residency Programme (ARP)

The College recognises that in exceptional cases, a candidate whose circumstances do not permit enrolment in a standard programme may submit an equivalent, alternate programme to the College, in cooperation with his/her supervisor, outlining the resources available to the individual for advanced study and experience. The ARP must be submitted to the Education Committee and approved by the College before the resident embarks on it. The ARP is not approved for anyone other than the resident in question. The total length of the ARP cannot be shorter than the Standard Residency Programme. In every case, the minimum specifications as defined below must be met, including the suitability of the learning environment for each component. For each applicant pursuing an ARP, an individual application must be made by the candidate, countersigned by the supervising Diplomate, for approval by the Education Committee, using all necessary substantiating material. Application must be made three months prior to commencement of the programme. Each element of the ARP is subject to the same prerequisites as a Standard Residency Programme.


The residency programme, standard or alternate, shall be a minimum of thirty-six months duration of advanced postgraduate training in veterinary microbiology that will start after the completion of an initial twelve-month rotating internship or equivalent approved by the ECVM Education Committee. The Education Committee can allow the training to take place on a part time basis as long as the total time is equivalent to at least three years but does not exceed six years. A resident on an alternate training programme must spend the equivalent of at least sixty per cent of three years working in the practice of his/her speciality, under direct supervision of a Diplomate of the College.

In case of maternity (leave), illness or under exceptional circumstances a prolongation is possible. The duration of the prolongation must be agreed with the Credentials/Education committee.

The resident must successfully pass the examinations within eight years of finishing the residency programme.