Like most health care fields, the veterinary profession has become multi-tiered. Veterinarians may now specialize in various disciplines including:
- internal medicine
- emergency and critical care
- sports medicine and rehabilitation
Specialties are recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association's American Board of Veterinary Specialties.
If your animal develops a problem or injury requiring advanced care and procedures, your primary veterinarian or emergency room veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary surgeon.
A veterinary surgeon has undergone additional training after veterinary school in order to become a specialist. This training consists of a minimum of a 1-year internship followed by a 3-year residency program that meets guidelines established by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS).
During the residency there are specific training and caseload requirements that must be met. In addition to these requirements, applicants must perform research that is published in a scientific journal and then pass a rigorous examination.
Specialists are called a “Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons” or a “board-certified surgeon.”
Your Animal’s Healthcare Team
All veterinarians may perform surgery as part of their veterinary practice. However, difficult cases may be best managed by a specialist. Board-certified surgeons work closely with the owner and the primary veterinarian before and after surgery in a team approach to ensure continuity of care for your animal.
Most ACVS Diplomates work at large hospital or referral centers; therefore, in addition to having advanced surgical training, they also have access to state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and support staff that may not be available to your primary veterinarian.
Following surgery and any postoperative follow-up care, the primary veterinarian resumes ongoing care of the animal.
Veterinary surgeons are dedicated to providing the very best in surgical care. They also act as a resource for your primary veterinarian by providing consultations on difficult or unusual cases. With their advanced training, these specialists offer expertise that ensures the best possible outcome for the animal and animal owner.