State Summary Report

 Specialist Claims State Laws

​Last updated March 2015

This document contains a compilation of statutes and administrative rules for the 27 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, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming. Counting these states, 37 states have laws or regulations that directly or indirectly address the use of the term “specialist.”

Alabama

Code of Ala. § 34-29-61:

(20) 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 Alaska Administrative Code § 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

Title 32, chapter 32, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes

32-3216. Claims regarding specialties; unprofessional conduct

It is an act of unprofessional conduct for a health professional or the health professional's staff, employer or representative to claim that the health professional is board certified as a specialist if this is not true or if this status is not current and to fail to supply the full name of the specific agency, organization or entity that granted the certification when making this claim.

32-4405. Claims regarding specialties; unprofessional conduct

It is an act of unprofessional conduct for a nonhealth professional or the nonprofessional's staff, employer or representative to claim that the nonhealth professional is board certified as a specialist if this is not true or if this status is not current and to fail to supply the full name of the specific agency, organization or entity that granted the certification when making this claim

Arkansas

 Code of Arkansas Rules and Regulations § 092 00 CARR 001 (2010):

ADVERTISING

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

 Florida Administrative Code § 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

Official Code of Georgia Section 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.

Georgia Compiled Rules & Regulations, rule 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.

Kansas

 Kansas Administrative Regulations § 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;

Louisiana

 Louisiana Administrative Code, 46: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[.]

Louisiana Administrative Code, 46: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

 Code of Maryland Regulations § 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

Code of Massachusetts Regulations, 256 CMR § 2.01:

Definitions.

Veterinary Specialist (Veterinary Diplomate) means a veterinarian currently certified by a speciality board recognized by the AVMA or the Board.

Code of Massachusetts Regulations, 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 that term contained in 256 CMR 2.01. 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 Administrative Code, 9100.0800:

Minimum Standards of Practice. (Subp. 11)

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;

 Missouri Code of State Regulations, 20 CSR 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

 Board of Veterinary Medicine, §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 Administrative Code Chapter 638 Section 3

Except for a person acting as consultant, as described under Nevada law, 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 638.015 may use the title “veterinary specialist.”

New Jersey

 New Jersey Administrative Code § 13:44-4.8:

Advertising.

(c) A licensee who engages in the use of advertising which 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 Board certification in the claimed area exists and the licensee does not possess such certification. Where 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

 New Mexico Administrative Code § 16.25.3.8:

S. A veterinarian shall not use or participate in the use of any form of representation or advertising or solicitation which contains a false, deceptive, or misleading statement or claim. A false, deceptive, or misleading statement or claim is one which:

(5) falsely states or implies that a veterinarian is a certified or recognized specialist, unless the veterinarian is board certified in a specialty, recognized by the American veterinary medical association;

New York

 New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, 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

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 certifed or recognized specialist in any given field unless the veterinarian is a diplomate of a speciality 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)(11) of section 4741.17 of the Revised Code.

Ohio Revised Code § 4741.22:

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:

(S) Represents self as a specialist unless certified as a specialist by the board;

 Ohio Administrative 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

Oklahoma Veterinary Administrative Rules

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:

(a) failing to meet the minimum standards for veterinary clinics as set forth by Chapter 20 herein and for the practice of veterinary medicine as set forth by Chapter 25.
(b) 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:
(3) 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 Administrative 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[.]

Pennsylvania

 Pennsylvania Administrative 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

 Texas Administrative Code, 22 TAC § 573.23:

Board Certified Specialists and Duty of Licensee To Refer a Case.

(a) Definition. A licensee is a Specialist if he/she is a Board Certified Diplomate of a specialty organization recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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

(d) Complaint Investigations.

(1) Complaints against Board Certified 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.

 Texas Administrative Code, 22 TAC § 573.30.

Advertising

A veterinarian 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 veterinarian is a certified or recognized specialist unless the veterinarian is board certified as recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association in such specialty[.]

Virginia

Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine – Guidance document: 150-7

(Adopted August 13, 1996)

Use of the Term “Specialist” or “Specialty”

(Excerpt from Minutes of Full Board Meeting of August 13, 1996)

The Board discussed the use of the term “specialist” in general for use in the name of an animal facility.  If a facility is using the name “specialist” or “specialty” in its name and has no Board certified specialist on staff, the Board interprets this to be false and misleading advertising in and a subjective claim of superiority.

Washington

 Washington Administrative 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

 West Virginia Code of State Rules, § 26-4-4.12:

Specialist Practitioners.

A.  A veterinarian may represent himself or herself as a specialist only if he or she is board-certified.  A veterinarian shall restrict claims for specialization to those disciplines for which there is a specialty board approved by a certifying agency recognized by the Board.  A veterinarian may not use the term specialist for an area of practice for which there is not recognized certification.  A diplomate of any certifying organization recognized by the Board may claim only a specialty for the class of animals in which he or she specializes, and not for medical specialties in which he or she is not board-certified.  The Board shall annually, before January one, provide a list of approved certifying agencies for the next full calendar year.