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What is a Specialist?

Veterinarians, like human doctors, sometimes prefer to specialize in a particular area of veterinary medicine. To do this, they complete additional training beyond veterinary school. For example, a veterinarian who wants to specialize in dermatology will take on a one-year internship immediately following veterinary school. When finished with the internship, they will complete two to four years of residency training focused on dermatology at a university or teaching hospital where they will:

• work with cases specific to the field of dermatology, such as:

- skin cancer
- disorders caused by allergies
- conditions of the skin, mouth, hair and nails
- chronic ear conditions

• perform and publish research to further advance the field of dermatology

• work closely with an experienced veterinary dermatologist

Upon completion of the residency program, the veterinarian may also take a certification exam given by the American College of Veterinary Dermatology. Passing the exam gives them the title of Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology (DACVD) as acknowledgement of their expertise. To maintain this status and stay up to date on the latest diseases and treatments, the veterinarian must also complete a required amount of continuing education in their specialty field (dermatology in our example).

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recognizes 20 different specialties, all represented by an association. Many of them offer the board certification examination for their discipline. Some of these are:

• American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS)

• American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM)

• American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP)

• American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD)

• American College of Veterinary Emergency Medicine and Critical Care (ACVECC)

• American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN)

• American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR)

• American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists (ACVA)

• American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO)

• American College of Veterinary Pathology (ACVP)

Pet owners often work with veterinary specialists as a result of a referral from their primary care veterinarian. Throughout the care of your pet the veterinary specialist will work in conjunction with your primary care veterinarian to provide thorough and complete care for your pet.

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