What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

You love your pet and want to ensure that the veterinarian you select for your pet has the right qualifications to provide care for your beloved companion. When considering a new vet, what qualifications should you keep an eye out for?

Choosing the Right Vet

Choosing a new veterinarian for your pets can be a stressful experience. There are many different factors to consider. Will you like them? Will their hospital's hours line up with you availability? Beyond these important day-to-day practicalities, there are also a number of certifications a given vat can have. So, what do they mean? Here are a few of the most common. 

Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications

When searching for a vet, it is key for you to check and make sure that your prospective vet is licensed in the U.S. and in your state. You may also wish to take some time to find out if other people working the hospital are licensed like veterinary technicians. Visit your prospective vet's office and take a look around. If you don't see certifications hanging in the office, you can always ask to see them or contact your state board of veterinary medicine for more information. 

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 healthcare needs beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to look for a vet with qualifications that go above and beyond the standard DVM degree. Two of these certifications are:

Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Vets who are ABVP Certified start with a DVM degree then go on to acquire knowledge and expertise beyond what is needed in order to practice standard veterinary care. 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 hard work and training in order to specialize in treatment of different categories of companion 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. 

Vets That May Require A Referral

Veterinary Specialists - A veterinary specialist is board-certified and has completed extra training in a specific area of veterinary medicine and will have passed an examination of their skills and knowledge in that area. If your pet is especially unwell, your regular vet may refer you to a specialist who is knowledgeable in a relevant area. There are 41 specialties within veterinary medicine from ophthalmology and dentistry to surgeries. Veterinary specialists take pride in working with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best care possible.

St. Francis Veterinary Hospital's veterinary professionals are dedicated to offering you and your pet the finest care in veterinary medicine. Contact us today to learn more about the qualifications of our vets and our range of services.