Entrust your animal's care to a board-certified specialist.

Recognized Veterinary Specialties

Veterinarians who certify in a RVS become a Diplomate of that RVS. All veterinarians interested in attaining Diplomate status with the ABVP are encouraged to first download and thoroughly read the Applicant Handbook. The Applicant Handbook provides answers to all commonly asked questions and systematically guides you through the application and credentials process.

Veterinarians considering certification in two or more RVS’s should be aware of the following:

  • Specialty Examinations for all RVS’s are scheduled during the same time on the same day. It is not possible for a candidate to sit for more than one Specialty Examination in the same year.
  • Each candidate has three consecutive years to pass the necessary examinations to become a Diplomate.

Below you will find special notes on particular RVS’s. If you have additional questions beyond what is covered below and in the Applicant Handbook, please contact the ABVP.

Once you are ready to apply, you will need to create an online account. All applications, fees, and credentials are submitted via your account. To create an account, please go to the Member Log-In page and follow the prompts.

Avian Practice

The Avian Practice category is ABVP’s second largest, with approximately 135 active Diplomates. Most are in private practice and see a variety of species including exotic pets, dogs, and cats. Others are in practices limited to birds and other exotics. Diplomates are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery as well as other areas such as preventative and wellness care, husbandry, nutrition, and behavior. Some Avian Diplomates are in academia where they teach and perform clinical service and research.

Veterinarians who pursue Avian Practice certification work in high-quality practices and have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. The typical caseload is 10 or more avian cases per week. Veterinarians who see fewer birds than this may not be successful in credentialing. The type of cases seen is important as well as the number.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with birds and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. A Regent is also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

There are several residency programs available. Some are combined with another exotics RVS. For more information, click here.

Beef Cattle Practice

The Beef Cattle Practice category has approximately 14 active Diplomates. They work in private practice as well as industry and academia. Diplomates have the expertise to serve as consultants for the beef industry and are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery for the individual animal in addition to herd health, production, and economics.

Veterinarians who pursue Beef Cattle certification may work on different species of production and companion animals but the majority of their practice is cattle. They have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and herd problems and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. Diplomates frequently consult and provide continuing education to producers, students, industry, and other veterinarians.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with beef cattle and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. A Regent is also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

Academic residencies may be available. For more information, click here.

Canine & Feline Practice

The Canine and Feline Practice category is ABVP’s largest, with approximately 475 active Diplomates. Most are in private practice with a primary caseload of dogs and cats. Diplomates are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery as well as other areas such as preventative and wellness care, behavior, and public health. An increasing number of C/F Diplomates can be found in clinical service and teaching roles at veterinary colleges. Some serve in the military or work for pharmaceutical, nutrition, or biologics companies.  

The typical veterinarians who pursue C/F certification work in high-quality practices and have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. While they may refer challenging cases to specialists, most Diplomates prefer to keep patients themselves. Specialists are used as resources but are not asked to take over all of the in-depth cases. Veterinarians in limited practices such as outpatient, wellness-only, spay/neuter, shelter, or mobile may not have the proper caseload and experience to successfully complete the credentialing process. Those who primarily work in emergency/critical care settings have become C/F Diplomates but caseload can be limiting.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with dogs and cats and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. Two Regents are also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

There are several residency programs available. For more information, click here.

Dairy Practice

The Dairy Practice category has approximately 35 active Diplomates. They work in private practice as well as industry and academia. Diplomates have the expertise to serve as consultants for the dairy cattle industry are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery for the individual animal in addition to herd health, production, and economics.

Veterinarians who pursue Dairy certification may work on different species of production and companion animals but the majority of their practice is with dairy cattle. They have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and herd problems and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. Diplomates frequently consult and provide continuing education to producers, students, industry, and other veterinarians.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with dairy cattle and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. A Regent is also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

Academic residencies are available. For more information, click here.

Equine Practice

The Equine Practice category has approximately 90 active Diplomates.  Most of them are in private practice or academia, and while they may work on other large animals or pets, the majority of their caseload is horses. Diplomates are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery as well as other areas such as preventative and wellness care, husbandry, and behavior.

Veterinarians who pursue Equine certification may work in equine-only practices or prefer horses as patients. They have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. While they may refer challenging cases to specialists, most Diplomates prefer to keep patients themselves. They understand and appreciate the needs of horses and are experts at diagnosing and managing unique equine diseases. An increasing number of Equine Diplomates can be found lecturing at CE meetings and consulting.  

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with horses and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. A Regent is also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

Academic and private practice residencies are available. For more information, click here.

Exotic Companion Mammal Practice

The Exotic Companion Mammal Practice category is one of ABVP’s newest, numbering approximately 22 active Diplomates. Most are in private practice and see a variety of species including exotic pets, dogs, and cats. Others are in practices limited to exotics. Diplomates are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery as well as other areas such as preventative and wellness care, husbandry, nutrition, and behavior. Some ECM Diplomates are in academia where they teach and perform clinical service and research.

Veterinarians who pursue ECM Practice certification work in high-quality practices and have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. The typical caseload is 10 or more exotic mammal cases per week. Veterinarians who see fewer than this may not be successful in credentialing. The type of cases seen is important as well as the number. By species, the approximate breakdown is 40% rabbits, 40% ferrets, and 20% mice, rats, and other pets.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with exotic mammals and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. A Regent is also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

There are several residency programs available. Some are combined with another exotics RVS. For more information, click here.

Feline Practice

The Feline Practice category has approximately 84 active Diplomates. Most are in private practice with the majority of the caseload being cats. Diplomates are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery as well as other areas such as preventative and wellness care, behavior, and public health.

Veterinarians who pursue Feline certification may work in cat-only practices or simply prefer cats as patients. They have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. While they may refer challenging cases to specialists, most Diplomates prefer to keep patients themselves. They understand and appreciate the needs of cats and are experts at diagnosing and managing unique feline diseases. An increasing number of Feline Diplomates can be found lecturing at CE meetings and consulting.   

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with cats and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. A Regent is also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

Private practice residencies may be available. For more information, click here.

Food Animal Practice

The Food Animal Practice category has approximately 22 active Diplomates.  Most are in academia with a few in private practice. Diplomates are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery for the individual animal as well as herd health, production, and economics.

Veterinarians who pursue Food Animal certification have a caseload that includes beef and dairy cattle, small ruminants, and swine. They have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and herd problems and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. Diplomates frequently consult and provide continuing education to producers, students, industry, and other veterinarians.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with various food animal species and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. A Regent is also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

Academic residencies are available. For more information, click here.

Reptile and Amphibian Practice

The Reptile and Amphibian Practice category is ABVP’s newest, numbering approximately 12 active Diplomates. Most are in private practice and see a variety of species including exotic pets, dogs, and cats. Others are in practices limited to exotics. Diplomates are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery as well as other areas such as preventative and wellness care, husbandry, nutrition, and behavior. Some RA Diplomates are in academia where they teach and perform clinical service and research.

Veterinarians who pursue RA Practice certification work in high-quality practices and have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. The typical caseload is 10 or more reptile cases per week. Veterinarians who see fewer than this may not be successful in credentialing. The type of cases seen is important as well as the number. The species included in RA certification include snakes, lizards, crocodilians, chelonians, tuataras, anurans, caudates, and caecilians. Birds and mammals are not included.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with reptiles and amphibians and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. A Regent is also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

There are several residency programs available. Some are combined with another exotics RVS. For more information, click here.

Shelter Medicine Practice

The Shelter Medicine Practice category is ABVP’s newest. Diplomates are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery as well as other areas such as preventative and wellness care, behavior, and public health.  

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with shelter medicine and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. A Regent is also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

There are several residency programs awaiting approval. For more information, click here.

Swine Health Management

The Swine Health Management category has approximately 23 active Diplomates. They work in private practice as well as industry and academia. Diplomates have the expertise to serve as consultants for the swine industry are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery for the individual animal in addition to herd health, production, and economics.

Veterinarians who pursue Swine Health Management certification may work on different species of production and companion animals but the majority of their practice is with swine. They have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and herd problems and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. Diplomates frequently consult and provide continuing education to producers, students, industry, and other veterinarians.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with swine and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. A Regent is available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

There are special requirements for Swine Health Management applicants that are in addition to the standard ABVP credentialing and examination process. For complete information, please download and carefully read both the Applicant Handbook and the SHM instructions (SHM Certification Process).