American Board of Veterinary Specialties - Entity Description

An Advisory Board on Veterinary Specialties (ABVS) was established by the House of Delegates at its 96th Annual Meeting in August 1959, upon recommendation of the Council on Education (COE). In August 1992 the House of Delegates approved a name change to the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, as recommended by the Council on Education and the Executive Board.

The criteria for recognition of veterinary specialty organizations were first established by the House in 1951. These criteria were revised and expanded in 1969, 1981, 1985, 1988, and annually since 1990, and are currently represented in the AVMA Guidelines for the Establishment and Recognition of Veterinary Specialty Organizations. ABVS is charged with implementing these Guidelines.


  1. Establish and evaluate criteria for determining whether a proposed specialty fills a recognizable need and represents a distinct area of specialization in veterinary medicine.
  2. Determine whether a sufficient number of qualified and interested veterinarians exist to form a new recognized veterinary specialty organization (RVSO) and veterinary specialty (RVS).
  3. Furnish advice and assistance to those groups submitting petitions for establishment and recognition of specialty organizations. The ABVS will:
    1. Provide guidance and encourage development under the AVMA umbrella.
    2. Encourage emerging groups, when appropriate, to organize under an existing specialty organization.
    3. Encourage existing specialty groups to embrace appropriate emerging specialties.
  4. Review petitions to ensure that essential requirements established by the ABVS for specialty organizations are fulfilled.
  5. Make appropriate recommendations to the COE concerning the granting of AVMA recognition.
  6. Receive and review annual reports from all specialty organizations recognized by AVMA, and evaluate a detailed, in-depth review of each such organization at 5-year intervals.
  7. Ascertain through annual reports and 5-year reviews that each recognized specialty organization's procedures for credentialing and examination are fairly administered.
  8. Function, according to established guidelines, as a facilitator for requests for mediation between candidates or applicants for specialty board certification and recognized veterinary specialty organizations, and ensure that the established appeal procedures of the specialty organizations are fully implemented.
  9. Educate the public about specialty services provided by diplomates of recognized veterinary specialty organizations.

Membership, Method of Appointment, and Representation

Appointments to serve are made by the organization represented.

Appointments are for four-year terms beginning at the close of the AVMA annual meeting. (No limit on terms, therefore partial term considerations are not of importance.) Each organization is encouraged to designate an alternate to serve in the absence of the representative.

One member from the following organizations and from additional specialty colleges or boards as they are established: American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, American College of Poultry Veterinarians, American College of Theriogenologists, American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists, American College of Animal Welfare, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology, American College of Veterinary Dermatology, American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, American College of Veterinary Microbiologists, American College of Veterinary Nutrition, American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, American College of Veterinary Pathologists, American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, American College of Veterinary Radiology, American College of Veterinary Surgeons, American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, American College of Zoological Medicine, American Veterinary Dental College, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, Council on Education.

Staff consultant: Ed Murphey


The Chair is elected from and by the membership.


Prior to the spring meeting of the COE and once more per year if necessary.


Except for the COE representative, AVMA reimburses for one half of their travel expense and all of their meals and lodging expenses for one representative, or the alternate, (but not both) to each regularly scheduled meeting. AVMA reimburses all expenses of the COE representative.


A liaison representative from the COE and a liaison representative from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges will attend meetings of the Board. The liaison representatives are non-voting members of the ABVS.


After each annual meeting, the liaison representative from the COE prepares a report for the review and approval of the ABVS chair. This report includes recommendations from the ABVS for COE action, and these recommendations are included in the agenda of the next meeting of the COE.

Life Expectancy

The Committee will be reviewed in compliance with AVMA governance policies.