What qualifications do I need to be eligible to apply to the program?

For the clinical observer program, you will need to be a licensed veterinarian, and proficient in the English language. We do also have programs for veterinary nurses, technicians and other professionals, and for student groups. Please send a message to the Program Coordinator at to discuss your requirements.

English is not my first language. Will this be an issue?

If you are not a native speaker, you will need to demonstrate that you are able to understand and communicate in English, so that you can derive maximum benefit from your time at Penn Vet. We may ask for evidence to support this.

I cannot spare much time at present, but I would really like to focus on one or two areas of veterinary medicine, with the possibility of specializing later in my career. Is there a short course I could use to get a taster?

Yes, we can offer you a taster session for a week, two weeks or a month, in any of our specialist areas. You would also have the opportunity to talk to Penn residents about the process they went through. You will find details of the specialist areas at the home page.

What are the fees?

Please contact the Program Coordinator ( for details of the options available.

It would be a long journey and a big move for me, so could I come for a whole year to gain as much as possible from the experience?

Yes, we offer long-term as well as short-term programs. Spending a year at Penn Vet is a particularly good choice if you are coming from far away, and if you are still deciding which of many areas to specialize in. Our year-long programs will give you a taste of all the specializations that Penn offers.

Will I need a visa?

There is information here about the visa requirements to enter the United States, with a map showing the requirements for each country. Candidates must meet all the criteria to apply for the appropriate visa, if one is needed. It can take some weeks to obtain a visa, so you should factor this into your planning.

What should I do for accommodation?

This depends a lot on the length of your stay. There are local long- and short-term apartment rentals. There are also hotels in the vicinity; and Airbnb is another option. You’ll find a list of suggestions here. For your safety, try to keep within reasonable proximity of the university campus.

I am getting ready to depart! What time should I be with you, and where?

A few days before your start date, you will receive confirmation regarding your recommended arrival time, and whom to contact. (Each service has slightly different hours.) You will be asked to come to the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital at 3900 Spruce Street and announce yourself at the front desk or see the security guard. They will inform us, so we can come and collect you. On your first day we will aim to include a 30-minute tour of the building to get you oriented.

How do I get from the airport?

Taxis are typically plentiful at Philadelphia airport. We suggest you acquire some US dollars beforehand to cover initial, incidental expenses like this.

What kind of a city is Philadelphia?

Philadelphia is a cosmopolitan and cultural city, with a deep history. There is plenty for visitors to do and see, from museums and art galleries to a vibrant sports scene. Find out more here.

How can I keep myself safe while I am in Philadelphia?

Try to find accommodation in reasonably close proximity to the university campus. Penn has its own police who monitor the area continuously (see our public safety site; an escort can be made available if you need to work late.

What is the COVID vaccination policy?

Penn accepts the following COVID vaccines, all of which have been granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) through the United States’ Food and Drug Administration: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. Penn will also accept those vaccines that have been “pre-qualified” or authorized for “Emergency Use Listing” (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO) evaluation process. This list includes: AstraZeneca/Oxford, Covishield, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin. Additional vaccines may be approved in the coming months. The WHO vaccine evaluation list, under the Status of COVID-19 Vaccines within WHO EUL/PQ evaluation process link – the word “finalized” must appear under Status of Assessment.

Are there travel restrictions in place as a result of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak?

Penn takes the health of its students, its staff and the general public very seriously. This outbreak is being monitored closely, and you can see our policy here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has current information, in English, Spanish and Mandarin. Try their Vaccine Finder; the Students & Families area also has applicable content.

Which COVID vaccines are approved?

Penn will accept the following vaccines, all of which have been granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) through the United States’ Food and Drug Administration: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. Numerous vaccines are available in other countries. Penn accepts those that have been “pre-qualified” or authorized for “Emergency Use Listing” (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO) evaluation process. As of May 4, 2021 this list includes AstraZeneca and Covishield. Additional vaccines may be approved in the coming months. See the WHO site for latest information on emergency use approval.

What is the best way to get around the city?

Philadelphia has excellent public transport, and you can now hire a bicycle from multiple areas. Philadelphia airport is well served by taxis, and Uber or Lyft. When you have a weekend free and wish to see a little of the surrounding area, it could be useful to hire a car.

Can I cycle?

Philadelphia is a good city to cycle in, as long as you are careful. There are also city-wide bicycle share and rental schemes. Here’s a good place to start:

I am not a licensed veterinarian in the USA. Can I still participate?

Yes, you may still participate as a veterinarian qualified elsewhere in the world. Although US law says that you may not touch an animal being treated, the visitor program is built around observation. You will join rounds, and will watch at close proximity, with the procedure or process being explained to you. You may also have the opportunity to participate in a wet lab, where you will be able to try out what you are learning. Other veterinary professionals and students should contact us at for program information.

What is the clothing policy?

Dress code is business casual, or you may wear scrubs. It is advisable to bring scrubs with you anyhow, as you may be asked to wear them to observe surgery, for example.

Should I get a local cellular phone?

This could help keep your costs down, especially if you are visiting for more than a few weeks. Verizon and T-Mobile have contract packages. See also: Internet access is widespread, so apps like WhatsApp and Messenger are particularly useful.

Why do I need to provide proof of financial ability?

We are obliged to ask for proof of this, to demonstrate that you can visit the USA without running out of money to be able to return home – so you don’t stay here illegally. You need to show that your accommodation has been paid for and that you have money for daily expenses for the duration of your stay in America.

What kind of insurance will I need?

It is advisable to have travel and health insurance, and you must obtain personal liability insurance. You will need to purchase personal liability insurance, as travel insurance alone does not cover this. Check with your university or employer, as liability insurance may well be part of your general insurance cover with them. Here are some links which may be helpful: (good for longer visits, includes travel/medical coverage) is a very useful resource for liability insurance – personal liability insurance

Are there constraints about what I can do as a visitor?

You may not treat or touch an animal patient. The program is built around observing procedures and joining clinicians on rounds. You can scrub in and observe in the Operating Room. And you may have the opportunity to be involved with a wet lab/cadaver. You will be able to sit in on rounds, and discuss patients with faculty, residents and students.

Do you require proof of my current rabies vaccination status?

Yes, a current rabies vaccination certificate is a requirement, either recent vaccination/booster, or a rabies antibody titer that shows adequate immunity. This must be within the last two years, and last at least as long as your time at Penn Vet. (Visitors coming for a laboratory-based experience only are kept away from direct contact with fluids, so in this case it is not mandatory.)

How can I obtain some practical information on day-to-day living for when I arrive? and have information and links to help you get started – including local banks, the mail service, food and grocery shopping.

Is there a cafeteria on the premises?

Yes, the Green Line Café – @greenlinecafe – has an outlet on the second floor of the Ryan Hospital. Current opening hours are 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM. You can buy coffee and other drinks, snacks and light lunch there. There’s also Jar Garden on the second floor, a machine stocked with salads, yogurts and other snacks. Sweetgreen provides healthy lunches – place your order before 11:15 AM for delivery 12:30-12:45 PM to Second Floor by office 2001.

What is a ‘PennCard’?

If you are visiting for longer than a month, you will be entitled to a PennCard, and a Penn Key. The PennCard is your ID, and will allow you to gain access to the buildings. The Penn Key gives you password access to medical records and the Penn Vet Library, plus the main university library. Your PennCard will also entitle you to buy day passes at the local fitness centers. We will help you obtain these from upstairs at the Penn Bookstore. You will need to have your passport as proof of identification, and you must be accompanied by a university staff member. The Information Technology team will then activate the Penn Key.

How do I get online?

You can connect to the internet via the AirPennNet Guest wireless network. You will need to register your email address on a web form. Follow these steps:
1. Select AirPennNet-Guest from the list of wireless networks on your device.
2. Open a web browser.
3. Review and accept the Acceptable Use Policy terms and conditions.
4. Enter a valid email address.
5. Click Submit.

I plan to participate in the clinical observation program at Penn Vet in September, when your Annual Conference takes place. Is it possible for me to attend this as well?

Visitors participating in the program at the time of the conference may attend the conference, as long as there are seats available. You will find more information on conference content, fees, continuing education credits and registration details at

How can I find out what other continuing education events are taking place while I am visiting Penn Vet?

Take a look at the Penn Vet Continuing Education pages. There is also a calendar of events here.

Is there a local gym or fitness center?

If you have a Penn Card, you will be able to buy day passes at the local gyms, Pottruck Center (which has a swimming pool), and Fox Fitness Center. There’s more information at”.

Can I make payment with a credit card?

We do not accept credit cards at present. You may send a check or wire the money (wire transfer details will be on the invoice). We do ask that your payment be made before your visit begins.

I plan to take the PAVE route to obtain veterinary licensure in the US. Can you help?

Yes. If you are preparing to take the NAVLE for US veterinary licensure, a visit will afford you the opportunity to see at close quarters US veterinarians in action. This will help you to become familiar with current techniques and practices as you prepare via the PAVE or ECFVG routes. You may also do your Evaluated Clinical Experience with us. If you would like more information about the application process, please do get in touch with us at

I’d like to have a souvenir of my visit. What can you suggest?

The Penn Bookstore has accessories for your two- and four-legged friends: everything from backpacks to bandanas, from t-shirts to textbooks. Also look out for fund-raising sales of merchandise at Penn Vet.