While veterinarians are well aware of the commitment and dedication required to earn a veterinary medical degree and license, the level of advanced training and education that veterinarians achieve may come as a surprise to some animal owners.
That’s why AVMA’s president, Dr. Rena Carlson, recently wrote an article outlining these requirements for a non-veterinary audience. Newly published in DC Journal, "The Unparalleled Experience Your Veterinarian Brings to the (Exam) Table" spells out in extensive but highly understandable detail the rigorous training that makes veterinarians uniquely qualified to diagnose, prognose, treat, and perform surgery on animal patients.
Understanding the veterinarian’s expertise
The article walks readers through the extensive science-based undergraduate learning, veterinary medical school coursework and rotations, national certification exam, state licensure requirements, and ongoing continuing education that veterinarians commit to in order to provide the best possible treatment and care for every animal we see.
"The knowledge and education acquired through the successful completion of a doctorate in veterinary medicine qualifies veterinarians to accurately diagnose patients and maintain health standards with comprehensive treatment plans tailored to the individual animal,” Dr. Carlson writes.
This unparalleled expertise is why the AVMA and others agree that a qualified veterinarian-led team provides the best animal care.
“By the time a student graduates with a DVM or VMD degree, he or she is equipped with more expertise in animal care than any other medical professional. And yet, for most veterinarians, this education serves as the foundation for a career-long journey of continuous training and development," the article continues.
As Dr. Carlson notes, graduating and passing boards are really just the beginning—the baseline that qualifies veterinarians to care for our animal patients.
"Many veterinarians also seek supplemental experience through internships and residencies, often adding one to three years of training to achieve board certification in one of the 46 distinct AVMA-recognized veterinarian specialties such as oncology, anesthesiology, cardiology, neurology, or animal behavior,” she notes.
Protecting animal health with a veterinarian-led approach
"This unparalleled expertise,” writes Dr. Carlson, “is why the AVMA and others agree that a qualified veterinarian-led team provides the best animal care.”
Dr. Carlson’s article is especially timely because of calls from some quarters to introduce a new midlevel practitioner position in veterinary medicine. These proposals could result in non-veterinarians issuing diagnoses, prognoses, and treatment plans, or performing surgery—despite the fact that there are no agreed-upon curriculum, accreditation standards, or national assessment test for such a position.
“That is why we do not support proposals to introduce a new midlevel position for our profession that would assume some of the veterinarian’s role,” writes Dr. Carlson. “Someone without the same level of training as a veterinarian should not be making life-or-death decisions for your pet."
Spread the word
Do your clients know the full extent of your training and experience? Consider sharing Dr. Carlson’s article with them to be sure.