ACVIM launches fellowship program to encourage discipline mastery

American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) logo
(Courtesy of ACVIM)

Until recently, options were limited for diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) who wanted to further specialize in their field.

The ACVIM currently certifies veterinary specialists in cardiology, large animal internal medicine, neurology, nutrition, oncology, and small animal internal medicine. The specialty college had 3,437 board-certified diplomates as of late last year.

Some ACVIM diplomates have furthered their knowledge by completing fellowships, but those programs weren’t officially recognized by the specialty college.

In response to demand for this option, the ACVIM has developed a new fellowship program designed to advance veterinary expertise in fields of study that are narrower in scope than ACVIM specialties, as announced in a September 7 press release.

Modeled after fellowships in human medicine, the ACVIM Fellowship Program comprises a minimum one-year period of advanced academic, clinical, or research training in a veterinary medical discipline. The program occurs after a qualified residency or specialty training program, and leads to additional knowledge, expertise, and mastery in the chosen discipline.

“It’s the direction that human medicine took a long time ago,” said Dr. Keith Richter, chair of the fellowship committee and past chair of ACVIM’s Fellowship Task Force. With demand from diplomates and institutions alike, an opportunity for training in a narrower field is much needed, he explained.

The fellowship program will enable ACVIM to approve programs from any private practice or academic institution that meet a set of established criteria. Providing such programs will lend prestige, allowing them to attract top-quality trainees, Dr. Richter said.

Completing a fellowship program allows specialists to gain distinction by using the FACVIM credential followed by the domain of study. For example, “FACVIM (Gastroenterology)” would be conferred upon completion of an approved program. Specific fields of study will be named by the programs as they apply for ACVIM approval by the Fellowship Committee.

“I think it’s going to create demand and recognition,” Dr. Richter said.

The American College of Veterinary Surgeons and American Veterinary Dental College have fellowships already, and the American Board of Veterinary Specialties has developed and incorporated guidelines for specialty training programs.

From now until the end of 2025, individuals who completed a program prior to 2023, but after 2017, can apply to have their specific program retroactively approved so that they can earn the distinction of an ACVIM fellow and use the postnominals.

Dr. Richter explained that an ACVIM fellow has additional training and expertise, and could choose to focus their practice on a more specific field, thus benefiting their patients, their institution or practice, and their career path. He also predicted that fellowship programs might be another pathway to academic positions.

“There's not been any modification to the credentials of specialists in several decades, so this will be an exciting step for the college and specialty veterinary medicine in general.”

The Fellowship Committee will review applications at least twice per year. The first deadline is December 1, and the next will likely be February 1, 2024.

Institutions are responsible for providing salary and research support, if applicable, for each fellowship candidate. Institutional support may be sourced from a third party, but this must be disclosed.

More information about available grants and fellowships can be found on the ACVIM website.

BluePearl partners with veterinary colleges for specialist mentoring program

BluePearl recently announced an initiative where BluePearl specialists are placed as hybrid faculty members in select colleges across the country, helping to train and educate the next generation of veterinarians in emergency and specialty veterinary care.

“Some specialties that are in high demand are bearing the brunt of the shortage at BluePearl, partner universities, and profession wide,” Dr. Lenore Bacek, vice president of clinical affairs at BluePearl. “We need to innovate to create both short-and long-term solutions and are committed to working together to share resources in a way that benefits pet owners, academia and the wider industry.”

The BluePearl University Partnership Program, launched with a partnership between Colorado State University (CSU) College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and BluePearl, will expand to additional academic institutions, offering a potential solution to the veterinary specialist shortage. Dr. Arnold will spend three quarters of his time with BluePearl’s Lafayette, Colorado, hospital and one quarter with CSU.

The hybrid faculty members are expected to make contributions to medical quality, patient care, and clinical education during their time at partner universities. Additionally, they will bring outside perspective from their experience in BluePearl specialty care hospitals, according to an October 10 press release.

Students looking to specialize should be passionate about the area they’re studying, Dr. Bacek explained. “Remember, a veterinary residency is an investment in your future, helping you become an expert in a specific area of veterinary medicine. Embrace the journey with enthusiasm, dedication, and an open mind,” Dr. Bacek said.