Veterinary Specialists...Real or Scam?
What is a veterinary specialist? It generally means the vet has been board certified with extra training and has passed an exam showing his additional capability in a specialized field. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has guidelines to help identify veterinarians that have those extra credentials. Don't just take your vet's word for it or fall for the intimidation or bragging. Currently there are 21 AVMA recognized specialty organizations comprising 40 distinct specialties. More than 9,800 veterinarians have been awarded the distinction of Diplomat in one of these areas by completing rigorous postgraduate training, educational and examination requirements - so there is no excuse for a vet claiming to have knowledge he hasn't backed up with credentials.
Many vets say they "specialize" in a certain area - but unless they are board certified it doesn't mean much at all.. The AMVA states: "It is unethical for veterinarians to identify themselves as members of an AVMA recognized specialty organization if such certification has not been awarded." Only those that are board certified can claim the status of "Diplomat". Being "Board Certified" is an achievement and honor. The board specialties listed as qualifying are:
So if your vet says he/she's a Orthopedic Specialist ....'taint so. Not on the list. She may have an interest in that field, but that doesn't mean she's necessarily had specialized training or examinations proving her knowledge in that field. - because it doesn't exist (yet). Yet we have a local vet that says she is.
We also have a local vet that claims he's a Reproduction Specialist - but has no credentials to back it up. There is a College of Theriogenologists, but he's not a member and never passed the exam in spite of what he leads you to believe. So if you're going to pay the big bucks for someone you expect has specialized training, make sure they really do have what they say have.
The Internet is a wonderful thing! You can find out all kinds of things about your vet with Google and VetRatingz.com. If you're looking for a reproductive specialist, visit the College of Theriogenologists website and search their member directory. If you are looking for Dentistry, Dermatology, or Radiology you can do the same thing.
Veterinarians that have made the extra effort to become experts in a field should be recognized. It is our responsibility, as the public, to make sure we find these vets and know the limitations of "regular" vets who may be very knowledgeable, but not "experts" - even if they think they are!