So, you love your pet and want to be sure that the veterinarian that you choose to care for them has the right qualifications to provide your animals with the care that they need. But what kind of qualifications should you be looking for?
Choosing the Right Vet
When choosing a new veterinarian for your animal or meeting a vet you've been referred to for the first time, it's not uncommon to feel some stress! Will you like them? Are their hospital hours in line with your availability? Are they located close to home or work? But beyond the day-to-day practicalities, there are also several accreditations and certifications that an individual vet can hold. But what do these certifications mean? Here are a few of the most common.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When searching for a vet, make sure that you check whether or not the veterinarian that you are considering is licensed to practice in the U.S. and your specific state. You may also want to take some time to learn whether or not other people working in the hospital are licensed as well including registered veterinary technicians.
Visit a prospective vet's office a take a look around. If you don't see any certifications hanging in their reception area, you can always ask to see their licenses or contact your state's board of veterinary medicine for more information.
Here are the two certifications you are looking for:
DVM (VMD) - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - The first thing that you need to check is that your vet is qualified to practice in the U.S. When a person graduates from an American veterinary school they receive a DVM—Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (sometimes called a VMD degree). All vets practicing in the U.S. must have a DVM degree. A DVM degree means that the person you are considering is, in fact, a qualified veterinarian and is fully qualified to perform the duties of the profession.
State Veterinary Licensing - To practice veterinary medicine, some states also require a veterinarian to pass a state-specific examination. These exams typically test the vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations governing veterinary medicine. To maintain a state veterinary license, vets must obtain continuing education and may need to renew their license regularly (often every 3 years).
Additional Veterinary Qualifications
If your pet has health care requirements above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to look for a vet with qualifications that go beyond the standard DVM degree. Two such certifications are:
Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Veterinarians who are ABVP Certified (ABVP Diplomates) begin with a DVM degree and then go on to accrue knowledge and expertise beyond what is required to practice standard veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates undergo a challenging 3-year process of additional studies and examinations to become board-certified specialists recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These vets have put in the hard work and training to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of animals.