Board-Certification vs. Earning a Certificate

The information below is taken directly from JAVMA (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association), a publication by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

This is important information for pet owners for example that are looking for a veterinarian to perform surgery on a dog with a cranial cruciate ligament rupture.

A board-certified veterinary surgeon is a veterinarian who has studied for an additional 3-5 years focusing specifically on surgery. This is extremely different than a veterinarian who has received a certificate for a one-day continuing education course.

Deciding to pursue surgery for your pet can be very difficult but being informed of the many options is a critical part of the decision making process and can make a big impact on the outcome for your pet.

‘Not all certifications are the same

Posted May 13, 2015 in JAVMA (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association)

A new AVMA policy explains the differences between being certified by an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organization and earning a certificate. The policy reads as follows:

Distinction Between the Process of Board-Certification and Earning a Certificate
The American Veterinary Medical Association only recognizes as specialists, veterinarians who have been certified by a board or college recognized by the AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties. All other certificates or like documents are evidence of continuing education, course-work completion or similar initiatives and do not rise to the level of specialization.

The policy proposed by the ABVS and approved by the AVMA Board of Directors aims to show certificate programs are not equivalent to specialty board certification.

In its recommendation to the AVMA Board, the ABVS cites certification in veterinary surgery as an example of how the process encompasses several years spent acquiring a wide array of knowledge and skills in orthopedic and soft-tissue surgery of all body systems, using a variety of surgical techniques and technologies. In contrast, a certificate program might award a certificate to a veterinarian who has attended a several-hour or daylong continuing education program to learn a specific procedure such as repair of cranial cruciate ligament rupture.

Some certificates, the ABVS continued, are assessment-based and awarded to participants who demonstrate suitable attainment of the specific knowledge or skill presented to them. Certificate programs may improve the knowledge or technical proficiency of a veterinarian in a focused area, similar to what might be achieved through attendance at CE meetings.

“However, certificates awarded as described … do not require extensive training requirements for eligibility; do not represent expertise attained through long-term repetition of cases from start to finish under the mentorship of experts; and do not represent an assessment of knowledge and skills by a process independent of the provider of the knowledge and skills, and thus should not be confused with certification as an expert,” the ABVS stated.

Additionally, as defined by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, certificates differ from certification in that awardees are not given a degree or credentials to be listed with their name.

Given these distinctions, the ABVS requested that the AVMA Board approve the policy statement, which it did, and that the AVMA provide further clarification and guidance with regard to certification.’

To view the article, copy and paste the following link:



What can we help you find?