About Veterinary Specialists

What is a Veterinary Specialist?

A specialist is the branch of medicine in which a doctor has completed advanced clinical education and training, and has passed competency or certifying examinations. For veterinarians, the only official, recognized certifying agency is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). There are multiple specialty colleges under the auspices of the AVMA. Doctors who have trained in a specialty college and have passed the college’s certification exam are referred to as “board certified” within their specialty. To receive the best healthcare for your pet’s needs, consider choosing a doctor who specializes (is board certified) in that particular medical condition. A specialist will concentrate on your pet’s specific needs and will be familiar with the best methods of treatment.

Your primary care veterinarian coordinates your pet’s general health care and can help you choose the right type of specialist for a given problem.

Why is Board Certification Important?

Board certification requires extensive training and a rigorous review of a doctor’s knowledge, experience and skill within the specialty. Board certification also means that a doctor is actively improving his or her practice of medicine through continuing education within the specialty area. A board-certified doctor is more likely than a non-board certified doctor to have the most current skills and knowledge about how to treat your pet’s medical condition. A doctor who is board certified has taken important steps beyond obtaining a required state medical license to practice, and focuses primarily on that one specialty area. A doctor who is not board certified may be an excellent doctor who is fully licensed to practice medicine and surgery in his or her state.