We know that you love your pet and that you want to make sure they get the best care possible. So our vets at Smith Animal Hospital are sharing the qualifications you should look for in a vet to make sure your beloved pet gets the highest quality of care.
Selecting the Right Vet
Deciding on a new vet for your pet can be a difficult task because there is a lot of things that have to be considered. Do you like the staff? Do the hospital hours match your availability? But, looking past the basic practicalities of selecting a veterinarian, there are a handful of certifications a vet can hold. Here we tell you what the most common veterinary certifications mean.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
On your search for a vet look to see if the veterinarian you are looking at is licensed to practice in the U.S. and in your state. You might also want to take the time to see if the rest of the staff working at the hospital is also licensed, such as the registered veterinary technicians. Visit the vet's office and look around, if you can't find the certifications hanging in the reception area, ask to see their licenses or call your state board of veterinary medicine to obtain more information.
These are the two certifications you are searching for:
DVM (VMD) - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - The first thing that you should 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 cat or dog has specific health care requirements that go past the standard veterinary care, you might want to find a vet that has qualifications that go beyond the basic DVM degree. Two of these certifications are:
Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Veterinarians that have ABVP Certification (ABVP Diplomates) start with a DVM degree then continue to obtain knowledge and skills beyond what is needed to practice standard veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates take on a challenging 3-year process of additional studies and exams to become board certified specialists recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These vets have done lots of hard work and training to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of pet and animal care.
Fear Free Certification - If your pet is anxious or high-strung you might want to take the extra time to locate a Fear-Free Certified veterinarian 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.