Most veterinarians have completed a 4-year undergraduate degree followed by an additional 4 years to become a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM or VMD). Becoming a veterinarian is a difficult journey of self-sacrifice, hard work, training, and costly education. The veterinary profession is filled with compassionate, giving, hardworking individuals dedicating their lives to improving animal and public health, prevent and relieve animal suffering, and continue to expand medical knowledge.
Just as in human medicine, surgery, and dentistry, some veterinary doctors continue their training and education further to become a veterinary SPECIALIST and earn the additional title of DIPLOMATE in their respective fields. To become a specialist (Diplomate) the veterinarian often completes an additional 1-year internship program followed by a 2-3 year residency and/or approved training program regulated by the American Board of Veterinary Specialists (ABVS) - American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Being admitted into internships and residency programs is a highly competitive process. Following the additional years of post-graduate training, clinical experience, and scholarly activity the veterinarian must submit credentials and successfully pass a rigorous examination process. Once all those steps are completed they become Diplomates in their field and can call themselves veterinary specialists. Currently there are 22 recognized specialty organizations with 41 distinct specialties.[i] Specialist veterinarians communicate and work with family veterinarians to provide the best possible care for pet parents and their pets and can offer advanced diagnostics, treatments, and services.