ABVS - History and Description

July 2017


I. History and Description of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties

In 1950, the AVMA Board of Directors received applications for recognition from the first two veterinary specialty organizations. These applications were from the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) dated February 10, 1950, and from the American Board of Veterinary Public Health (ABVPH) dated July 31, 1950. The applications were referred to the Council on Education (COE) and the Association of Deans of American Veterinary Colleges for recommendations. In 1951, the AVMA House of Representatives approved criteria for recognition of veterinary specialty organizations. At the same meeting, the House of Representatives approved recognition of the ACVP and the ABVPH, and assigned the responsibility of reviewing future applications to the COE and the AVMA Board of Directors (BOD). In 1957, upon the recommendation of the COE and the Board of Directors, the AVMA House of Representatives granted recognition to the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM).

In 1959, the COE recommended, and the House of Delegates approved, the establishment of an Advisory Board on Veterinary Specialties. The resolution establishing the Advisory Board on Veterinary Specialties also specified its composition and outlined its duties, and directed the COE to review and take action on recommendations submitted to it by the Advisory Board on Veterinary Specialties. The initial meeting of the Advisory Board on Veterinary Specialties occurred on February 20, 1960. In 1961, the House approved two documents developed by the Advisory Board on Veterinary Specialties: one was titled "Procedures for Establishment of Veterinary Specialty Organizations," and the other, "Rules for Organization and Operation of the Advisory Board on Veterinary Specialties." The Procedures document restated the criteria approved by the Board of Directors in 1951. The rules, criteria, and procedures have been updated, revised, and approved by the House of Delegates in 1969, 1981, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1991, and 1992. The Advisory Board of Veterinary Specialties was renamed the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS) in 1992. The most recent update of the rules, standards, and procedures of the ABVS were approved by the AVMA Board of Directors in 2015.

A. Relationships of organizational units in veterinary specialization (see Figure 1, page 34).

B. The objectives and duties of the ABVS are:

1. Establish and evaluate criteria for determining whether a proposed specialty organization 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), or a recognized veterinary specialty (RVS) within a currently existing RVSO.

3. Furnish advice and assistance to those groups submitting petitions for establishment and recognition of veterinary specialty organizations. The ABVS will:

a. Provide guidance and encourage development under the AVMA umbrella.

b. Encourage emerging groups, when appropriate, to organize as an RVS under an existing RVSO.

c. Encourage existing RVSOs to embrace appropriate emerging specialties and subspecialties.

4. Review petitions to ensure that the essential standards established by the ABVS for recognition as a veterinary specialty organization are fulfilled.

5. Make appropriate recommendations to the AVMA BOD concerning the granting of AVMA recognition to veterinary specialty organizations.

6. Receive and review annual reports from all AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organizations (including, where appropriate, their independent certification boards), and evaluate a detailed, in-depth review of each organization at 5-year intervals, to ensure continued compliance with the ABVS standards for recognition of veterinary specialty organizations.

7. Ascertain through annual reports, five-year reviews, and interim reports that each RVSO's (or their independent certification board’s) procedures for credentialing, examination, and appeals are administered fairly and in compliance with the standards of the ABVS.

8. Offer a neutral location (at AVMA headquarters) for mediation between candidates or applicants for specialty board certification and RVSOs when both parties are agreeable.

9. Educate the public about specialty services provided by diplomates of recognized veterinary specialty organizations.

C. Representation on the ABVS

Membership and voting privileges are accorded to one representative from each AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organization.  An alternate shall be designated by each RVSO to attend ABVS meetings if the representative is unavailable.  Where an RVSO has established an independent certification board, the RVSO’s representative to ABVS will serve as the liaison between the certification board, the parent RVSO, and the ABVS.  This responsibility shall include providing the certification board’s annual and 5-year in depth reports to ABVS.

D. Liaisons to the ABVS

One liaison representative from the COE, one liaison representative from the AVMA BOD and one liaison representative from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) will attend meetings of the ABVS. The liaison representatives are non-voting members.

E. Appointment and tenure of representatives

Representatives and alternates shall be appointed by each RVSO for renewable four-year (minimum) terms. Terms begin and end at the close of the annual session of the AVMA House of Delegates, which is held in conjunction with the AVMA annual convention. Representatives and alternates must be AVMA members in good standing, fulfill all requirements for the position at the time of the appointment, and understand the assignment and be willing to serve. In addition, it is recommended that each ABVS representative be a member of the RVSO’s governing body or be invited to serve in a manner that ensures communication between each RVSO and the ABVS occurs in a consistent and timely manner. Each RVSO must convey current contact information for existing and newly appointed representatives and alternates to AVMA staff by July 1 of each year. To ensure continuity of ABVS operations, RVSOs shall appoint representatives and alternates who are committed to fulfilling the responsibilities of the position for the full term elected. However, if  a representative or alternate cannot complete the term of his/her appointment, the RVSO will appoint a new representative and/or alternate to fill the unexpired term and must notify AVMA staff in writing within 10 days of when that new information is available.

F. ABVS meetings

The annual meeting of the ABVS is held during the late winter or early spring. Other meetings of the full ABVS may be scheduled as web and/or teleconferences throughout the year as needed. The ABVS Executive Committee and the Committee on Development of New Specialties meet by web and/or teleconference during the fall of each year to prepare for the annual meeting of the ABVS.

G. Reports to the AVMA Board of Directors

After each annual ABVS meeting, AVMA staff prepares a report, in the form of recommendations for action by the AVMA BOD, for review and approval by the ABVS chair. These recommendations will be placed on the agenda of the next meeting of the BOD.

H. ABVS meeting expenses

Except for the COE representative, AVMA will reimburse airfare (or mileage) to and from Schaumburg and meal and lodging in Schaumburg for one representative, or the alternate from each RVSO, (but not both), and the AAVMC liaison, to each regularly scheduled ABVS meeting. All other expenses (travel to and from the departure airport, parking, etc.) will be the responsibility of the representative and their respective RVSO. AVMA will reimburse all expenses of the COE representative.