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Guidelines for the Use of ACVS Diplomate Designation

Members in good standing are authorized to use the following designations:

  • Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons
  • Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons - Large Animal*
  • Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons - Small Animal*

*The indication of the Large Animal or Small Animal specialization must be used by Diplomates receiving certification in 2004 or later. Members may opt to pursue training in the alternate species via the ACVS Dual Certification program. 

Avoid using acronyms in communications directed to the general public because they are unlikely to be understood. The full name of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons should be spelled out whenever feasible.

An individual conferred honorary membership shall be designated as "Honorary Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons."

These policies are based on the policies of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS).

Use of Specialty Titles 

It is the position of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons that the term "specialist" be reserved for the exclusive use of those veterinarians who have successfully completed a residency training program and passed a certifying examination in their claimed discipline. The term “surgeon” may be used only to refer to ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeons.

ABVS policy: "Veterinarians should not in any way imply they are specialists unless they are certified by an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organization (i.e., board or college)."

Definitions

Diplomate of the ACVS: The ACVS Constitution states that members of the ACVS will be known as "Diplomates." This title implies that the member has successfully completed a residency program, has had his or her credentials application approved, has successfully completed the certifying examination and is in good standing.

Board Certified by the ACVS: This term implies successful completion of the certifying examination. In addition, this is the term to be used by individuals who at one time were "Members in Good Standing," but for some reason (e.g., resigning from the ACVS, failure to pay current dues) are no longer "Members in Good Standing" of the ACVS.

Limited to the Practice of Surgery: An individual who has completed residency training, but is not board certified may indicate only that his or her practice is "limited to the practice of surgery." No connection to the ACVS may be implied. The terms "board eligible,"  "board qualified" and “credentials accepted by ACVS” should not be used. An individual who identifies their professional credentials using these terms may be eliminated from the credentials application or examination process.

Telephone Directory Listing

Diplomates may choose to list themselves under the separate heading "Veterinarians - DVM - Surgeons," per guidelines outlined by the AVMA in the Advertising Regulations: Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. Only individuals who are board certified should present themselves as specialists. To comply with the recommendations of the AVMA, the ACVS can condone the use of this section of the telephone directory only by Diplomates.

Job Listing

An advertisement should outline specifically the type of individual desired, i.e., 1) Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons or, 2) individual who has completed residency training. The term “surgeon” may be used only to refer to ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeons and the term “specialist” may be used only to refer to veterinarians who are certified by an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organization. The terms “board eligible,” “board qualified” and "credentials accepted by ACVS" are unacceptable..  The terms “board eligible,” “board qualified” and "credentials accepted by ACVS" are unacceptable.

Letterheads, Business Cards and Websites

It is appropriate to indicate Diplomate status on letterheads, business cards and websites. The ACVS Veterinary Surgeon logo, subject to compliance with the Authorized Uses of the ACVS Veterinary Surgeon Logo, may be used as well. The full designation should be used. Diplomate status should appear directly below the name. For example:

For Diplomates certified pre-2004:

  • John Doe, DVM, MS
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons

For Diplomates certified in 2004 or later:

  • Jane Doe, DVM, MS
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons - Large Animal
  • Joyce Doe, DVM, MS
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons - Small Animal

Veterinary Journals/Scientific Publications

When an ACVS Diplomate publishes an article in a veterinary journal, it is appropriate to use an acronym to identify the ACVS, such as:

For Diplomates certified pre-2004:

  • John Doe, DVM, MS, Diplomate, ACVS
  • John Doe, DVM, MS, DACVS

For Diplomates certified in 2004 or later:

  • Jane Doe, DVM, MS, Diplomate - LA, ACVS
  • Jane Doe, DVM, MS, DACVS-LA
  • Joyce Doe, DVM, MS, Diplomate - SA, ACVS
  • Joyce Doe, DVM, MS, DACVS-SA
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