You love your companion and want to make sure that the veterinarian you select has the right qualifications to provide you with all of the veterinary care your dog or cat needs. But what qualifications should you be on the lookout for?
Choosing the Right Vet
Choosing a new vet for your animal can be stressful, there are so many things to consider. Will you like the person? Are the hospital hours in line with your availability? But beyond the day-to-day practicalities of choosing a vet, there are a number of certifications an individual vet can hold. So, what do those certifications mean? Here are a few of the most common.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When you are searching for a veterinarian, check to ensure that the one you are considering is, in fact, licensed to practice both in your specific state and the US at large. You may also want to take some time to find out whether or not other people in the hospital are licensed, such as registered veterinary technicians. Visit your prospective vet's office and check around. If you don't see their certifications hanging in the reception area, you can also ask to see their licenses or follow up with your state's board of veterinary medicine.
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 - 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 their basic studies and then additional training on top of that in a specific area of veterinary medicine. This involves a test of their knowledge in their specialty area. If your pet is feeling unwell, your vet may refer you to a veterinary specialist in an associated area. At Rocklin Road Animal Hospital, for example, we have a vet surgeon on-call to provide specialty surgeries for our patients when more complex treatment is required.
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.