Most of our vets are either qualified specialists in their field of expertise, such as Dermatology, or are undertaking further training to become specialists. Our vets are highly experienced individuals and most have spent time in general practice before embarking on their journey to become either a European or American Specialist. The only difference between being a European or American Specialist is the vet has followed a European programme or an American programme, but the resulting qualification is fundamentally the same.
In order to achieve specialist status, vets have to complete a one year rotating internship in a university or specialist referral clinic, such as the AHT, after which they can apply for a European or American approved residency in their chosen discipline.
Residencies are of a three-year duration and are approved by the relevant European or American veterinary specialist college so that residents can sit their specialist examinations at the end of their residency and become recognised Specialists in their field.
We have at least one European or American specialist working within each of our disciplines: Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Oncology, Soft Tissue Surgery, Anaesthesia, Clinical Pathology and Diagnostic Imaging.
Then, after five years working in their chosen discipline as a specialist, they can apply to become a Royal College Specialist (RCVS). To be granted this – the highest veterinary specialist status – their application must be supported by two references from peers in their specialist discipline and the RCVS must be satisfied that they have made an active contribution to their specialty, have national and international acclaim and publish widely in their field.
This is the highest qualification a vet can achieve in his or her field of expertise and involves a great deal of hard work, time and commitment. Reaching this level of specialist accreditation takes at least seven years, after initially qualifying as a veterinary surgeon.
At the AHT we currently have numerous Royal College, European and American Specialists, working in our Small Animal Centre as well as several residents working towards specialist status which make up our highly skilled and passionate team of vets.
Herbert has a lump on his neck and has been referred to the oncology department. At this consultation it is decided that Herbert will need an ultrasound examination and as Herbert is a wriggly dog he will need a light sedation to get the pictures we need to help understand Herbert’s disease. His owner brings him in but only meets one vet and one nurse – but there are many people involved with Herbert’s visit:
- The oncologist (a vet who specialises in this field) who spends up to an hour examining Herbert and talking to his owner both before and after Herbert’s tests and treatment. They will also look at test results to decide on possible treatment plans, and will write a detailed report back to Herbert’s local vet. They will also speak to Herbert’s owner if they have any worries in between visits.
- The oncology nurse who will weigh Herbert, take him to Wards and organise and coordinate all of his tests
- The ward staff who will put Herbert in a clean kennel, feed him, take him for a walk and check on him regularly, and clean the kennel when he leaves
- An anaesthetist (another vet) who will examine Herbert and plan his sedation and organise the most appropriate drugs for his overall health
- A diagnostic imager (another vet) who will perform an ultrasound on Herbert and write a report detailing the results
- If Herbert’s lump needs surgery then a soft tissue surgeon (another vet) will be involved in discussing the surgical options before Herbert is booked a slot for his operation –and that will involve another whole group of people to ensure the best outcome.
- A receptionist who will book Herbert’s next visit
- A secretary who will process any insurance paperwork
So you can see that Herbert gets to meet lots of people who are directly involved in his care at his visit to AHT Small Animal Referrals.