What is a Veterinarian? What is a Veterinary Specialist?

To become a Veterinarian, a person most commonly obtains an undergraduate degree from a four-year academic program, and then completes an additional four years of graduate study to obtain a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. With this degree, and a passing grade on the appropriate state veterinary board exam, a DVM is licensed to practice veterinary medicine in that state. In order to maintain their license, Veterinarians must complete continuing education courses throughout the year to stay up-to-date on current diagnostics and therapies.

Some Veterinarians opt to seek specialization in a particular field of veterinary medicine. In order to obtain this specialization, the Veterinarian often will complete a one-year internship program, are required to complete a 2- 3 year residency program, and then must demonstrate their mastery of the knowledge affiliated with the specialization through an intensive examination. Specialization colleges vary regarding their requirements for unique research and publication. Veterinary Specialists can be found in the fields of:

• Internal Medicine (includes Oncology, Cardiology, and Neurology)- American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
• Dentistry- American Veterinary Dental College
• Dermatology- American College of Veterinary Dermatology
• Ophthalmology- American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists
• Surgery- American College of Veterinary Surgeons
• Radiology- American College of Veterinary Radiology
• Pathology- American College of Veterinary Pathologists
• Emergency and Critical Care- American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care

Veterinarians and Veterinary Specialists work together to provide optimal care for pets. Your primary Veterinarian will evaluate and treat your pet for most preventative and unexpected illnesses and injuries. When a referral to a Veterinary Specialist is necessary, your primary Veterinarian will collaborate with the Veterinary Specialist to ensure that your pet receives the best care possible.