What is a Specialist?
A board-certified veterinary specialist is a veterinarian with advanced education and training in a specific discipline of veterinary medicine. His or her knowledge and skill in this area is evaluated and recognized by a specialty organization (college) sanctioned by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Over the past 15 years there has been tremendous growth in the volume of new information and procedures available within the veterinary field. As a result, it is virtually impossible for any one veterinarian to be completely versed in every medical discipline.
As in human medicine, this reality has led to the development of advanced training programs in specialized areas. Until recently, only human medical facilities and university veterinary hospitals provided many of the services offered by AESC.
To become a specialist, a student must complete four years of veterinary school. Next, he or she must subsequently complete a one-year internship in small animal medicine and surgery, followed by a three-year residency training program in their elected discipline at an accredited residency training program. Successful completion of written and practical examination by a Board of Examiners, approval of case reports, and the publication of a research article in veterinary literature are also required.
When successfully completed, the individual is referred to as a diplomate in one of the 14 specialty colleges. Specialists can now be found in veterinary colleges, industry practices, and private practices throughout the world. They perform research, teach, and provide specialized veterinary care.