You love your pet and want to ensure that the veterinarian you select for them has the right qualifications to give you the services your pet needs. But what qualifications should you be looking out for?
Choosing the Right Vet
When selecting a new veterinarian for your pet, it's easy to feel stressed. There are so many things to consider! Will you like the person? Are they conveniently located for you? Are their hospital hours aligned with your availability? But beyond these day-to-day considerations, there are a number of qualifications and certifications an individual veterinarian can hold. Here are some of the most common:
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When looking for a vet, check to ensure that the veterinarians you are considering is licensed to practice both in the United States and your specific state. You may also take some time to find out whether other people who are working in the hospital are licensed too. Visit a prospective vet's office and take a peek around. If you don't see their certifications hanging in the reception area, just ask to see their licenses or call your state's board of veterinary medicine for more info.
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 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 examination 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.
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 office and during their examinations and treatment.