State Summary Report

 Specialist Claims State Laws

​Last updated February 2018

This document contains a compilation of statutes and administrative rules for the 30 states that AVMA research has found that specifically regulate the use of the term "specialist" by veterinarians. In addition, the following states incorporate by reference in their veterinary disciplinary rules the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, that state that it is unethical for veterinarians to identify themselves as members of an AVMA recognized specialty organization if such certification has not been awarded and maintained (Section II-C): Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming. Counting these states, 39 states have laws or regulations that directly or indirectly address the use of the term "specialist."

Alabama

Ala. Code 1975 § 34-29-61

(21) VETERINARY FACILITIES. Any place or unit from which the practice of veterinary medicine is conducted. The following are types of veterinary facilities:

b. Specialty Practice or Clinic. Provides complete specialty service by a veterinarian who has advanced training in that specialty and is a diplomat of an approved specialty college. It meets all minimum standards that are applicable to that specialty.

Alaska

12 AAC 68.150: Prohibited advertising

A veterinarian may not personally, or on behalf of an associate, use or allow to be used any form of public communication or advertising that

(4) states or implies that a veterinarian is a certified specialist unless the veterinarian is certified in that specialty by a board recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Arizona

Arizona Revised Statutes § 32-2232: Unprofessional or Dishonorable Conduct

As used in this chapter, unprofessional or dishonorable conduct includes:

24. Representing that the veterinarian is a specialist if the veterinarian lacks the credentials to be a specialist.

A.R.S. § 32-2215: Qualifications for license to practice veterinary medicine

D. The board may waive the examination requirements pursuant to § 32-2214, subsection C, paragraph 2 and, except as provided in subsection E of this section, may issue a specialty license to an applicant to practice veterinary medicine if the applicant provides all required documentation pursuant to § 32-2213 and meets the following requirements:

1. The applicant holds a current certification as a specialist of a national specialty board or college recognized by the American veterinary medical association.
2. The applicant's practice is limited to the scope of the applicant's board certification.
3. The applicant successfully passes a state examination approved by the board with a score of at least seventy-five per cent.
4. The applicant pays a fee for the specialty license of seven hundred fifty dollars.

E. The board shall determine if previous disciplinary action prevents licensure by endorsement or specialty licensure of an applicant to practice veterinary medicine, and the board may discipline the licensee at the time of licensure as a result of the previous disciplinary action.

Arkansas

Ark. Admin. Code 092.00.1-9: ADVERTISING

A veterinarian shall not, on behalf of himself, his partner, his associate, or any other veterinarian:

A. Seek to attract any client who has given the veterinarian notice that he does not want to receive communications from the veterinarian;

B. Use, or participate in the use of, any form of advertising or solicitation which contains a false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim.

A false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim includes, without limitation, a statement or claim which:

(8) States that a veterinarian is a certified specialist unless he is Board certified in such specialty;

Colorado

4 CCR 727-1:III: VETERINARY MEDICAL ETHICS AND CODE OF CONDUCT

A. In order to safeguard the public health, safety, and welfare and to establish and maintain a high standard of ethics, professional conduct and integrity in the practice of veterinary medicine in this state, the Board hereby establishes the following code of ethical conduct applicable to all licensed veterinarians. Violations of this code may result in disciplinary action by the Board.

11. Advertising

No veterinarian may advertise Specialty Board Certification without certification by the American Veterinary Medical Association in that specialty area. It is unethical to allow one's credentials to be used by any organization that engages in, or has members that engage in, the unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine. A veterinarian should only advertise information about their practice that is accurate and services that are actually provided.

Florida

Fla. Admin. Code r. 61G18-21.001: Advertising

(3) No veterinarian shall disseminate or cause the dissemination of any advertisement or advertising which is in any way fraudulent, false, deceptive or misleading in form or content. Any advertisement or advertising shall be deemed by the Board to be fraudulent, false, deceptive or misleading if it:

(d) Conveys the impression that the veterinarian disseminating the advertising or referred to therein, his staff, his services or method of delivery of veterinary services are superior to any other licensed veterinary services, licensed veterinarian or legally recognized method of delivery unless such claims can be substantiated. A veterinarian shall not advertise that he is a specialist unless he is a diplomate of one or more national specialty boards which are recognized by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. For the purposes of this rule the Board recognizes only those national specialty boards which are recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. It is permissible for a veterinarian to advertise that he limits his practice to or has a particular interest in a particular species or particular area of practice.

Georgia

Ga Comp. R. & Regs. 700-13-.01: Veterinary Specialist

(1) For purposes of this rule "Veterinary Specialist" is defined as a veterinarian who has completed the requirements to become a Diplomate within an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recognized veterinary specialty organization or as recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS), or other Board-approved organizations, or has obtained an advanced degree (MS or PhD) in a specific area or discipline in veterinary medicine.

(2) For purposes of this rule, it shall be considered unprofessional conduct for a veterinarian to identify himself/herself to the public as a member of an AVMA-recognized specialty organization or as recognized by the ABVS, if such certification has not been awarded. Veterinarians should in no way imply specialty unless they are certified by an AVMA-recognized specialty organization or as recognized by the ABVS, or other Board-approved organizations, or have obtained an advanced degree (MS or PhD) in a specific area or discipline in veterinary medicine.

(3) The use of the terms "board eligible" or "board qualified" shall be used only by practitioners with certification from an AVMA-recognized specialty organization or as recognized by the ABVS or other Board-approved organizations.

(4) Nothing in this Rule shall be construed to prohibit the performance of specialty functions by a veterinarian who has not completed the educational requirements stated in these specialty practice guidelines, provided that the veterinarian does not represent himself or herself as a specialist in the particular area of veterinary medicine.

Iowa

Iowa Admin. Code 811-6.6(169): Issuance of Limited License; specialization

6.6(2) A licensed veterinarian shall not claim or imply specialization unless the veterinarian is a diplomate in good standing of the respective specialty board or college recognized by the AVMA.

Iowa Admin. Code 811-10.6(17A,169,272C): Grounds for Discipline

(8) Use of untruthful or improbable statements in advertisements, which includes but is not limited to an action by a credential holder in making information or intention known to the public which is false, deceptive, misleading or promoted through fraud or misrepresentation and includes statements which may consist of, but not be limited to:

1. Inflated or unjustified expectations of favorable results;
2. Self-laudatory claims that imply that the credential holder engaged in a field or specialty of practice for which the credential holder is not qualified. A veterinarian is not qualified to claim or imply specialization unless the veterinarian is a member in good standing of the respective specialty board or college recognized by the AVMA;
3. Representations that are likely to cause the average person to misunderstand; or
4. Extravagant claims or claims of extraordinary skills not recognized by the credential holder's profession.

Kansas

K.A.R. 70-8-1: Acts of unprofessional conduct

The following acts by a Kansas licensed veterinarian shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action against the licensee:

(d) stating or implying that the veterinarian is a certified or recognized specialist unless the veterinarian is certified in the specialty by the board, as recognized by the American veterinary medical association;

Kentucky

201 Ky. Admin. Regs. 16:010: Code of Ethical Conduct

Section 11. A veterinarian shall not represent to the public that he is a board certified specialist in any specialty of veterinary medicine unless that veterinarian has:

(1) Been certified by a certifying board approved by the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners; and
(2) Furnished proof of certification to the board.

Louisiana

La. Admin Code. tit. 46, Pt LXXXV, § 1059: Particular Acts, Statements, or Situations Constituting "False, Deceptive, or Misleading Claim"

A. "False, deceptive, or misleading statement or claim" includes, without limitation, a statement or claim which:

8. states or implies that a veterinarian is a certified or recognized specialist unless he is board certified in such specialty.

La. Admin Code. tit. 46, Pt LXXXV, § 1063: Specialty List

A. A veterinarian holding a current certificate of special competence in a particular field of veterinary medicine issued by the board, recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association, may state in reputable veterinary directories and veterinary lists, notices mailed to veterinarians, clients, former clients, personal friends and relatives, the yellow pages of telephone directories distributed in the geographical area or areas in which the veterinarian resides or maintains offices or has his primary practice, and on professional cards or letterhead that he is certified in a particular field.

B. A veterinarian may not use the term specialist for an area of practice for which there is not AVMA recognized certification, nor may a veterinarian state or imply that he is a certified or recognized specialist unless he is board certified in such specialty.

C. A diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners can claim only a specialty for the class of animals in which he specializes, not for medical specialties unless he is board-certified in those medical specialties.

D. The term specialty or specialists is not permitted to be used in the name of a veterinary hospital unless all veterinary staff are board-certified specialists.

Maryland

COMAR 15.14.01.03: Definitions

A. In this chapter, the following terms have the meanings indicated.

B. Terms Defined.

(10) "Specialist" means an individual who has obtained certification from a specialty organization recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

COMAR 15.14.01.06: Advertising

B. A veterinarian, or an owner of a licensed veterinary hospital, limited use hospital, or animal control facility may not use the word special or specialty in an advertisement unless the veterinarian performing the procedure or treatment:

(1) Meets the definition of a specialist, as set forth in Regulation 03B(9); and
(2) Is named in the advertisement.

E. The name of a veterinary hospital or limited use veterinary hospital may not contain the word specialty, specialist, or a named specialist, unless:

(1) A majority of the veterinarians employed by the facility have obtained and maintained certification from a specialty organization recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association; and
(2) The advertisement lists the names of those veterinarians by specialty and certification.

COMAR 15.14.01.07: Professional Judgment and Practice

B. If a veterinarian professes to the public or colleagues to be a specialist in a particular area of veterinary medicine, the veterinarian, when caring for and treating a patient, shall conform to the minimum standards of care and treatment which are customary among these specialists.

Massachusetts

256 CMR 2.01: Definitions

(b) Veterinary Specialist (Veterinary Diplomate). A veterinarian currently certified by a specialty board recognized by the AVMA or the Board.

256 CMR 5.03: Advertising

(2) A licensee shall not use any advertising that contains:

(a) any statement or claim that a licensee is a veterinary specialist unless the licensee meets the definition of 256 CMR 2.01: Veterinary Specialist (Veterinary Diplomate). Advertisements which include both veterinary specialist licensees and non-specialist licensees or their respective services, which do not clearly identify and separate the veterinary specialist licensees and their services from the non-specialist licensees and their services is prohibited. This does not prohibit truthful and non-deceptive statements concerning a licensee's experience or training in a particular area of veterinary practice.

Minnesota

Minnesota Rules, part 9100.0800: Minimum Standards of Practice

Subp. 11. Specialist practitioners.

A. A veterinarian may claim to be a specialist only if the veterinarian is certified as a specialist in a discipline for which there is a specialty board approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). A veterinarian may not use the term "specialist" for an area of practice for which there is no AVMA-recognized certification. A diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners can claim only a specialty for the class of animals in which the diplomate specializes.

B. "Specialty" or "specialists" may not be used in the name of a veterinary hospital unless all veterinary staff are board-certified specialists.

Missouri

Revised Statutes of Missouri § 340.200

(25) "Veterinary facility", any place or unit from which the practice of veterinary medicine is conducted, including but not limited to the following:

(b) "Specialty practice or clinic", a facility that provides complete specialty service by a licensed veterinarian who has advanced training in a specialty and is a diplomate of an approved specialty board. A specialty practice or clinic shall meet all minimum standards which are applicable to a specialty as established by board rule.

20 Mo. Code of State Regulations 2270-6.011: Rules of Professional Conduct

(7) A licensee shall not advertise, state or imply by any means that s/he is a specialist in any given field unless the licensee is, in fact, a diplomate of an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-recognized specialty and is board-certified by the AVMA.

Montana

Mont. Admin. R. 24.225.550: Unprofessional Conduct

(1) For the purposes of implementing the provisions of 37-1-319, MCA, the board defines "unprofessional conduct" as follows:

(p) identifying oneself as a member of an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-recognized specialty organization if such certification has not been awarded and maintained, or using terms implying a specialty in a false and misleading manner.

Nevada

Nevada Admin. Code 638.0505: Use of "veterinary specialist" title

Except for a person described in subsection 3 of NRS 638.015, only a person who is a diplomate from an approved specialty board of the American Veterinary Medical Association and is licensed to practice veterinary medicine pursuant to subsection 2 of NRS 638.105 may use the title "veterinary specialist."

New Jersey

N.J. Admin. Code § 13:44–4.8: Advertising

(c) A licensee who engages in the use of advertising that contains the following, shall be deemed to be engaged in professional misconduct:

3. Any statement or claim or implication arising therefrom that licensee is a specialist where national specialty board certification in the claimed area exists and the licensee does not possess such certification. Where national specialty board certification in an area of claimed expertise does not exist, the use of the term "specialist" or its substantial equivalent shall not be utilized provided, however, that nothing herein shall prohibit truthful and non-deceptive statements concerning a licensee's experience or training in a particular area of veterinary practice.

New Mexico

N.M. Admin. Code 16.25.3

All professionals licensed by the board of veterinary medicine are subject to the Veterinary Practice Act and rules promulgated by the board.

U. A licensed veterinarian or veterinary technician shall not use or participate in the use of any form of representation, advertising or solicitation which contains false, deceptive or misleading statement(s) or claim(s). False, deceptive or misleading statements or claims are those which:

(5) imply that a licensed veterinarian is a specialist unless the veterinarian is a diplomate of an AVMA board certified specialty.

(6) imply that a licensed veterinarian is certified unless he is certified in a nationally recognized specialty whose certification process has been evaluated and approved by the board. The following complementary, alternative or integrative therapies may be considered, but are not limited to:

(a) acupuncture;
(b) acutherapy;
(c) acupressure;
(d) homeopathy;
(e) manual or manipulative therapy i.e, therapies based on techniques practiced in osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, or physical medicine and therapy;
(f) massage;
(g) naturopathy;
(h) physical rehabilitation;
(i) nutraceutical therapy;
(j) phytotherapy.

New York

8 NYCRR 29.6: Special provisions for the profession of veterinary medicine

(a) Unprofessional conduct in the practice of veterinary medicine shall include all conduct prohibited by section 29.1 of this Part except as provided in this section, and shall also include the following:

(5) claiming professional superiority or special professional abilities, attainments, methods or resources, except that a specialist may indicate a specialty that has been recognized as such by the Board of Regents. This provision shall apply in lieu of section 29.1(b)(12)(i)(f) of this Part.

North Dakota

ND Admin. Code 87-05-02-01: Unprofessional conduct

Unprofessional conduct manifestly disqualifying a licensee from practicing veterinary medicine includes:

12. Advertising, stating, or implying that the veterinarian is a certified or recognized specialist in any given field unless the veterinarian is a diplomate of a specialty board recognized by the American veterinary medical association.

Ohio

Ohio Revised Code § 4741.01

(C) "Specialist" means a licensed veterinarian who is certified by a veterinary specialty board of a professional veterinary association recognized by rule of the state veterinary medical licensing board.

Ohio Revised Code § 4741.19

(D) A veterinarian licensed to practice in this state shall not present the person's self as or state a claim that the person is a specialist unless the veterinarian has previously met the requirements for certification by a specialty organization recognized by the American board of veterinary specialties for a specialty or such other requirements set by rule of the board and has paid the fee required by division (A)(10) of section 4741.17 of the Revised Code.

Ohio Revised Code § 4741.22

(A) The state veterinary medical licensing board may refuse to issue or renew a license, limited license, registration, or temporary permit to or of any applicant who, and may issue a reprimand to, suspend or revoke the license, limited license, registration, or the temporary permit of, or impose a civil penalty pursuant to this section upon any person holding a license, limited license, or temporary permit to practice veterinary medicine or any person registered as a registered veterinary technician who:

(19) Represents self as a specialist unless certified as a specialist by the board.

Ohio Admin. Code 4741-1-02: Specialist

(A) Application: A person wishing to be registered as a "specialist" in a veterinary specialty shall make application upon a form provided by the state veterinary medical licensing board and shall provide all required credentials with said application. The licensing board, after consideration of the application and credentials, may issue a certificate registering the applicant as a "specialist" in the veterinary specialty stated, for purposes of practice in Ohio.

"Specialties" shall be those currently recognized by the American board of veterinary specialties. A current list of licensing board approved specialties will be maintained in the licensing board office.

(B) Prohibitions: Veterinarians licensed to practice in this state may not represent themselves as specialists until they have met the requirements of a specialty board or college recognized by the American board of veterinary specialties. Interns, residents and board qualified veterinarians are not considered specialists until they have met the specific requirements, passed all tests and received certification from a specialty organization as stated in paragraph (A) of this rule.

Any diplomate of a specialty recognized by the American board of veterinary specialties must notify the licensing board office within thirty days of failure to maintain current diplomate status, at which time the specialty license will be declared null and void.

No veterinarian shall use the title of "specialist" or represent himself or herself as a specialist unless registered by the state veterinary medical licensing board pursuant to division (C) of section 4741.01 and division (D) of section 4741.19 of the Revised Code and rule 4741-1-02 of the Administrative Code. Violation of this prohibition shall be grounds for the suspension or revocation of any license or permit issued by the board.

Oklahoma

Okla. Admin. Code 775:10-5-30: Unprofessional conduct

The following acts and/or omissions shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action by the Board. They shall include, but not be limited to:

(2) engaging in conduct likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public or a demonstration of willful or careless disregard for the health, welfare or safety of a patient. For the purposes of this provision, acts of fraud herein shall include, but not be limited to:

(C) claiming certification or recognition as a specialist which is untrue. Specialization shall be limited to those areas of specialization accepted by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Oregon

Oregon Admin. Rules 875-015-0030: Minimum Veterinary Practice Standards

Each veterinary medical facility shall comply with the following:

(7) A veterinarian shall not use, or participate in the use of, any form of advertising or solicitation which contains a false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim:

(a) Specialty Services: Veterinarians shall not make a statement or claim as a specialist or specialty practice unless the veterinarian is a diplomate of a recognized specialty organization of the American Veterinary Medical Association;
(b) The public shall be informed if an animal will be left unattended in the veterinary facility.

Pennsylvania

49 Pa. Code § 31.21: Rules of Professional Conduct for Veterinarians

Principle 5. Advertising

(a) Advertising by veterinarians is permissible when it does not include false, deceptive or misleading statements or claims. A false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim is one which does one or more of the following:

(3) States or implies that a veterinarian is a specialist, unless the veterinarian is a diplomate of an American Veterinary Medical Association--recognized specialty organization.

Texas

22 Texas Admin. Code § 573.30: Advertising

A licensee may not engage in advertising that is false, deceptive, or misleading. A false, deceptive, or misleading advertising statement or claim includes, without limitation:

(4) a statement or implication that a licensee is a certified or recognized specialist unless the licensee is a veterinarian who is board certified as recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association in such specialty.

22 TAC § 573.23: Board Certified Specialists

(a) Standard of Care for Specialist. Specialists are held to a higher standard of care than non-specialist veterinarians, notwithstanding §573.22 of this title (relating to Professional Standard of Care).

(b) Complaints against Specialists. Board investigations of complaints alleging substandard care by a Specialist in his/her area of specialty will include consultations with one or more Specialists licensed by the Board practicing the same specialty on the species involved in the complaint. The Board, at its sole discretion, may consult with Specialists from outside of Texas. If the Board determines an informal conference is warranted, both complainant and respondent may, at their own expense, present oral or written commentary by a Specialist practicing the same specialty on the species involved in the complaint.

(c) Verification of Specialist Status. Specialists must make information verifying their certification or recognition as a specialist available to the Board, Board staff, and the public. This information must be available upon request.

22 TAC § 573.32 Specialty listings

A veterinarian holding a current certificate of special competence in a particular field of veterinary medicine issued by the respective specialty boards in veterinary medicine, recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association, may state in reputable veterinary directories, advertising or notices mailed to veterinarians, clients, former clients, personal friends, and relatives; the yellow pages of telephone directories distributed in the geographical area or areas in which the veterinarian resides or maintains offices or had his/her primary practice; and on professional cards or letterhead that he/she is certified in a particular field in the following words: "Board Certified (e.g., Veterinary Radiology)." A veterinarian must indicate his or her specialty whenever the veterinarian indicates that he or she is a specialist.

Virginia

18 Virginia Admin. Code 150-20-10: Definitions

"Specialist" means a veterinarian who has been awarded and has maintained the status of diplomate of a specialty organization recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties of the American Veterinary Medical Association, or any other organization approved by the board.

18 Virginia Admin. Code 150-20-140: Unprofessional Conduct

Unprofessional conduct as referenced in subdivision 5 of § 54.1-3807 of the Code of Virginia shall include the following:

17. Representing oneself as a "specialist" without meeting the definition set forth in 18 VAC 150-20-10 or using the words "specialist" or "specialty" in the name of a veterinary establishment unless there is a veterinarian on staff who meets the definition of a "specialist."

Washington

Washington Admin. Code 246-933-140: Prohibited publicity and advertising

A veterinarian shall not, on behalf of himself or herself, any partner, associate or other veterinarian affiliated with his or her office or clinic, use or allow to be used any form of public communication or advertising which:

(4) States or implies that a veterinarian is a certified specialist unless the veterinarian is certified in such specialty by a board recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

West Virginia

W. Va. Code St. R. § 26-4-3: General Professional Ethics

3.15. A veterinarian may represent himself or herself as a specialist only if they have completed the process of Board certification in a recognized veterinary specialty area. To become Board certified, a veterinarian must have a credential review and examinations set by the given specialty area. The Board shall annually, before the first of January, provide a list of AVMA approved veterinary specialty organizations for the next calendar year.

Wisconsin

Wis. Adm. Code § VE 7.06: Unprofessional conduct

Unprofessional conduct by a veterinarian is prohibited. Unprofessional conduct includes:

(25) Advertising a specialty or claiming to be a specialist when not a diplomate of a veterinary specialty organization recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association American Board of Veterinary Specialties (AVMA ABVS) or by a foreign veterinary specialty organization which, in the opinion of the board, is equivalent to an AVMA ABVS recognized veterinary specialty organization.