Choosing the Right Vet
Selecting a new vet for your beloved cat or dog can be a stressful experience. There are many factors to consider. Do their hours line up with your availability> Will you even like them? But beyond these concerns, there is also the question of whether or not they are certified to provide the care your four-legged family member needs. Here are a few of the most common.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When looking for a vet, check and make sure that they are licensed to practice veterinary medicine in the United States as well as in your specific state. It may also be worthwhile to check to see if other staff at the hospital are licensed too, such as registered veterinary technicians. Visit your prospective vet's office and take a peek. If you don't see their certifications hanging in their reception area, you can ask to see their licenses or contact the board of veterinary medicine in your state for more info.
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 healthcare needs beyond what a standard vet can provide, you may also want to look for veterinarians with certifications and qualifications that go beyond the standard DVM degree. Two of these 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.