You love your pet and want to make sure that the veterinarian you select to provide their care has the qualifications you need. But what qualifications should you be looking for?
Choosing the Right Vet
Selecting a new veterinarian for your pet can be a stressful experience. There are so many things to consider! Will you like them? Are their hospital hours in line with your own availability? Are they conveniently located for easy access? But beyond these important practicalities, there is also the question of what qualifications they hold.
There is a wide range of certifications an individual veterinarian can have. But what do they actually mean? Here are a few of the most common.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When searching for a vet, make sure that the veterinarian you are considering is, first and foremost, actually licensed to practice both in the U.S. and in your specific state.
You may also what to take the time to find out if other people working in the hospital are licensed, such as registered veterinary technicians. Pop into the vet's office and take a look around, if you don't see the certifications hanging in the reception area, simply ask to see their licenses or contact your state 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 you should check for is whether or not your prospective veterinarian is qualified to practice veterinary medicine in the United States. When a person graduates from an American veterinary school, they receive a DVM—Doctor of Veterinary Medicine—degree. This degree means that the person you are considering is a fully qualified veterinarian who has received all of the requisite education to perform the duties the role will require.
State Veterinary Licensing - In order 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. In order to maintain a state veterinary license, vets must obtain continuing education and may need to renew their license on a regular basis (often every 3 years).
Vets That May Require A Referral
Veterinary Specialists - A board-certified specialist is a veterinarian who has completed additional training in a specific area of veterinary medicine and who has passed an examination that evaluates their knowledge and skill in that area of specialty. If your pet is feeling particularly unwell, your regular vet may refer you to a specialist in an associated area of veterinary medicine.
There are 41 distinct specialties within veterinary medicine ranging from behavior to ophthalmology and surgery to dentistry. You may be referred to a veterinary specialist if diagnosing or treating your pet's health issue requires specialized equipment and/or expertise that your primary care veterinarian does not have. Veterinary specialists take pride in working with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best care possible.