Sports medicine and rehab specialty to publish certification requirements

Achievement marks culmination of years-long process
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In April, the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation announced that its board certification process was undergoing final review, with the requirements expected to be published in June.

The college recognizes two veterinary specialties: Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (canine) and Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (equine). Before they can take the certifying examination, candidates applying for board certification must demonstrate that they have obtained advanced training and experience in sports medicine and rehabilitation through one of three paths: an academic path consisting of a traditional residency or postdoctoral degree program in a related field, a nontraditional residency path, or a practice experience path. The college's Credentials Residency Committee was reviewing details regarding each of these paths at press time.

"By creating the practice experience track, the college recognizes that there are many veterinarians who have been active in the fields of veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation for years," said Dr. Robert L. Gillette, ACVSMR board of directors president.

Some members of this group might have sufficient credentials that they would be eligible to apply to sit for the first certification examination, tentatively scheduled for spring 2012, added Dr. Gillette, who is also director of the Animal Health and Performance Program at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Courtesy of Whitney Rupp


ACVSMR is a new specialty college that has been in the making for more than a decade. Interest in a veterinary rehabilitation and sports medicine specialty started to gain momentum in 1999 after the 1st International Symposium on Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy was held in Corvallis, Ore.

In January 2003, ACVSMR's five founding members submitted a letter of intent to the AVMA proposing a new recognized veterinary specialty organization—the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation—created to meet the unique needs of athletic and working animals and all animals in need of rehabilitation.

In accordance with AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties Policies and Procedures, an organizing committee was formalized in 2006 when 16 members were selected, using a method overseen by an independent entity. The selection process began with the founding members each submitting the names of 10 veterinarians who met the AVMA criteria of being recognized as exceptionally qualified and having one or more of the following qualifications:

  • Being a professor of the proposed specialty in a college or department of veterinary medicine.
  • Being an author of important publications resulting from research or practice in the specialty.
  • Having at least 10 years' experience in the specialty and, by teaching, research, or practice, having contributed substantially to the development of the specialty.
  • Having advanced training in the specialty and having demonstrated competency through teaching, research, or practice in the specialty, to which most of the individual's professional time is devoted.

Veterinarians whose names were submitted by the founding members were then asked to submit the names of other veterinarians they believed should be included. Thirty-three veterinarians on that list agreed to participate. These 33 individuals reviewed the curricula vitae of all the candidates—including the founding members—and ranked each candidate. They also were asked to vote on the number of organizing committee members they thought would be needed to start the college.

In March 2006, the voters indicated that they thought the organizing committee would need to have 16 members, and the 16 top-ranked individuals from the list were asked to be on the organizing committee. The number of organizing committee members—who would subsequently be named charter diplomates—was later increased to 27, as recommended by the ABVS.

In August 2008, the committee petitioned the ABVS to become a recognized veterinary specialty organization. The ABVS announced in the March 15, 2009, JAVMA that the petition had been reviewed favorably and invited public comments for a time period ending that November. The final petition was accepted by ABVS in November 2009, and the AVMA Executive Board granted provisional recognition the following year.

"Since being nominated for the organizing committee, I have been impressed with the transparency and detail of the process for this new college to gain approval from AVMA," said Dr. C. Wayne McIlwraith, a past president of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and an ACVSMR board member. "The initial 27 charter diplomates come from diverse backgrounds, but all have specific qualifications in veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation.

"As the representative for ACVSMR on ABVS, I have been impressed with the help we get from ABVS while they ensure that specialty colleges are appropriately qualified. At the same time, we hope to see rapid growth of this specialty that was definitely needed and can act in synchrony with other specialty colleges."

Membership in ACVSMR is expected to increase to more than 200 over the next several years as the demand for veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation continues to grow. Visit the college's website at for more information, including credentialing requirements.