You love your pet and want to ensure that any prospective vet you might choose for them has the "right stuff" to give them the veterinary care they need. So, when considering a new vet, what qualifications should you be looking for?
Choosing the Right Vet
Choosing a new vet can be a stressful experience: there are so many different factors to consider. Will they schedule align with yours? Will you even like them? But outside of these, these are a wide variety of certifications an individual vet can hold. But what do those certifications mean? Here are some of the most common.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When you are searching for a vet, it's important that you check that the veterinarian you are considering is licensed in the U.S and in your state. You may also want to take some time to investigate whether or not other staff working in your vet's office like a registered veterinary technician. Visit your vet's office and look around. If you don't see their certifications or licenses hanging on the wall, you can ask to see them or contact your state's board of veterinary medicine.
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 health care requirements above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to look for a vet with qualifications that go beyond the standard DVM degree. Two such certifications are:
Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Veterinarians who are ABVP Certified (ABVP Diplomates) begin with a DVM degree then go on to accrue knowledge and expertise beyond what is required to practice standard veterinary medicine. 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 the hard work and training to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of 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.