What Board Certification Means

What is a Veterinary Specialist? How are they different from my family veterinarian?
In addition to completing undergraduate training and four years of veterinary school, Board-certified Veterinary Specialists are similar to their human medical counterparts in that they have completed an internship and residency in their specialized field (an additional 3-5 years training). In addition to this extensive training, a Board-certified Veterinary Specialist must pass rigorous examinations to achieve Board certification. Specialists bring a greater understanding in areas such as internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, neurology, surgery, and radiology and have a greater knowledge of the unusual, the uncommon, or rare in both large and small animals. In addition, a Specialist may have diagnostic equipment not generally used by your family veterinarian.

When should you request a referral to a Board-certified Veterinary Specialist?
Your animal’s disease is uncommon, complicated, or undiagnosed after standard testing.
You would like an informed, neutral second opinion of your animal’s condition.
The outcomes of the current treatments are not going well or as expected.
Your animal requires a sophisticated procedure that is offered by a specialty hospital.
Your animal can benefit from 24-hour monitoring provided by a referral hospital.

If you believe your animal would benefit from a visit to a Board-certified Veterinary Specialist, you are encouraged to work with your family veterinarian to complete a referral.

(Source: American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine)