What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

You love your pet and want to ensure that the veterinarians you bring them to have the right qualifications to give your companion the care they need. But what qualifications should you be looking for?

Choosing the Right Vet

When choosing a new vet for your animal, it's normal to feel some stress. There are so many things to consider! Will you like the person? Are their hospital hours in line with your availability? Are they conveniently located? But beyond these practical matters, there are also several certifications that an individual veterinarian can hold too. Here are a few of the most common. 

Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications

When searching for a vet, you should check to make sure, first and foremost, that the professional you are considering is licensed to practice in the U.S. and your specific state. You may also want to take some time to learn whether other people at the hospital after licensed like registered veterinary technicians.

Visit your prospective vet's office and take a look around, if you don't see their certifications hanging on the walls in the reception area, you can ask to see their licenses. You can also contact your state's 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 - 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. To maintain a state veterinary license, vets must obtain continuing education and may need to renew their license regularly (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) - ABVP Certified veterinarians (also called diplomates) start with a DVM degree and then go on to accrue knowledge and expertise beyond the requirements of standard veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates undergo challenging 3-year courses of additional study to become board-certified specialists that are recognized by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). 

Vets That May Require A Referral

Veterinary Specialists - A board-certified veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who has completed additional training in a specific area of veterinary medicine and has passed an examination that evaluates their knowledge and skills in that specialty area. If your pet is unwell, your regular vet may refer you to a veterinary specialist. There are 41 distinct specialties within veterinary medicine ranging from behavior to ophthalmology and surgery to dentistry. You may be referred to a veterinary specialist if diagnosing or treating your pet's health issue requires specialized equipment and/or expertise that your primary care veterinarian does not have. Veterinary specialists take pride in working with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best care possible.

The team of veterinary professionals at Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Stanwood is dedicated to offering you and your pet the best possible care in veterinary medicine. Contact us today to learn more about the qualifications of our vets and our range of services.