Your love your pet and want to ensure that the vet you choose to give them care has the right qualifications to meet your pet's needs. But what qualifications should you be looking for?
Choosing the Right Vet
Choosing a new vet for your animal can be a stressful experience - there are so many things to consider! Will you like them? Are their hospital hours in line with your availability? But, beyond these day-to-day practicalities, there are also a number of certifications that an individual vet is able to hold. But what do these certifications mean? Here are a few of the most common.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When looking for a vet, check around to make sure that the veterinarian you are considering is indeed licensed to practice both in the U.S. and in your state. You may also want to take some time to learn whether or not other people working at the clinic are licensed as well such as registered veterinary technicians. Visit your prospective vet's office and take a look around. If you don't see any certifications hanging on the wall in the reception area, just ask to see their licenses or call 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 - 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).
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. SBVP Diplomates have to undergo a challenging 3-year process of additional studies and examinations to become board-certified specialists that are recognized by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). These vets have put in the hard work and training required to specialize in one or more categories of animals or veterinary medical practices.
Fear-Free Certification - If you have a pet that is high-strung or anxious you may want to take the extra time to locate a Fear-Free Certified vet in your area. Fear-free certification can apply to an individual vet, another veterinary professional within the hospital, or even the hospital itself. Fear-free training teaches ways in which veterinary professionals can make pets more at ease in their offices and during their examinations and treatment.