American Board of
Veterinary Specialties Considers Two New Members
registered by the AVMA’s American Board of Veterinary
Specialties (ABVS) member organizations numbered 9826 in
2009, according to market research data compiled by the
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This
represents slightly more than 10% of the number of
American veterinarians, 87,998, counted for the same
year. Since 1951 the AVMA has been overseeing the
designation of specialty organizations and colleges
within veterinary medicine, offering formal recognition
to those groups that act to promote advanced competency
in well-defined areas of study or practice that will
provide the public with exceptional veterinary service.
The ABVS is comprised of one voting representative from
each of the AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty
organizations, plus non-voting liaisons from the
Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges and the AVMA
Council on Education.
Currently there are 21 AVMA-recognized
veterinary specialty organizations comprising 40
distinct specialties. The ABVS is reviewing the
petitions of two groups seeking their recognition: The
American College of Animal Welfare (ACAW) and the
Specialty of Parasitology within the American College of
Veterinary Microbiologists (ACVM). The ABVS will
consider the relevance and importance of these groups to
the enhancement of veterinary medicine, as well as the
integrity and suitability of the training and
certification procedures for the group. They will
solicit opinions from the general membership of the AVMA
and from allied specialties, colleges and experts,
amongst others, in a formal evaluation process that may
take years for completion.
The home page of the American College of Animal Welfare
lists this mission statement:
The mission of the American
College of Animal Welfare, ACAW, is to advance animal
welfare through education, certification, and scientific
investigation. Once recognized by AVMA, Diplomates of
the American College of Animal Welfare will include
veterinarians with specialized training and experience
to carry out the ACAW mission.
The ACAW defines animal welfare as the state of the
animal. Assessment of welfare includes consideration of
the animal’s health, behavior, and biological function.
The AVMA does place high importance on the topic of
animal welfare and agrees that protecting an animal’s
welfare means providing for its physical and mental
needs, but they do also acknowledge that there will be
many perspectives on animal welfare influenced by
individual values and experience. The AVMA website
The AVMA, as a medical authority for the health and
welfare of animals, offers the following eight
integrated principles for developing and evaluating
animal welfare policies, resolutions, and actions.
The responsible use of animals for human purposes,
such as companionship, food, fiber, recreation, work,
education, exhibition, and research conducted for the
benefit of both humans and animals, is consistent with
the Veterinarian’s Oath.
Decisions regarding animal care, use, and welfare
shall be made by balancing scientific knowledge and
professional judgment with consideration of ethical and
Animals must be provided water, food, proper handling,
health care, and an environment appropriate to their
care and use, with thoughtful consideration for their
species-typical biology and behavior.
Animals should be cared for in ways that minimize
fear, pain, stress, and suffering.
Procedures related to animal housing, management,
care, and use should be continuously evaluated, and when
indicated, refined or replaced.
Conservation and management of animal populations
should be humane, socially responsible, and
Animals shall be treated with respect and dignity
throughout their lives and, when necessary, provided a
The veterinary profession shall continually strive to
improve animal health and welfare through scientific
research, education, collaboration, advocacy, and the
development of legislation and regulations.
The members of the American College of Veterinary
Microbiologists requesting the parasitology specialty
designation state their objectives:
The objectives of a RVS (recognized veterinary
specialty) in veterinary parasitology are to further
scientific progress in teaching and research in
veterinary parasitology; establish standards of
training, experience, and examination for qualification
as a specialist in veterinary parasitology; further the
recognition of such qualified specialists by suitable
certification; and encourage and promote the
establishment of standards for the performance of
clinical and laboratory procedures in veterinary
parasitology. Awareness of the importance of
parasitology in veterinary medicine has led to recent
and rapid growth in this field, particularly in terms of
demand for veterinary continuing educational
opportunities and request for diagnostic services; there
is also keen interest in veterinary parasitology among
both professional students and practicing veterinarians.
Accordingly, we hope that this move will serve to
recruit more outstanding veterinarians into the field of
veterinary parasitology by offering them an AVMA-endorsed
route to board certification and specialization in the
field. Advancement of parasitology as a discipline and
the quality of veterinary medical care in our nation is
expected to result.
They emphasize the importance of parasites to public and
animal health and to livestock productivity and
profitability. Their petition references the 28% market
share of antiparasitics in worldwide sales of animal
health products to underscore the financial impact of
parasites. It is suggested that that much of the
information about parasite diagnosis, management and
control is provided to practitioners and producers by
manufacturers and diagnostic laboratories, information
that is neither objective nor impartial. Parasitology
specialists can offer evidence-based recommendations
without bias as a significant benefit to the profession.
For additional information about the credentialing
process or the proposed introduction of these
specialties please refer to the AVMA’s website for the
Also watch for postings in the Journal of the AVMA for
your opportunity to comment on the value to veterinary
medicine of these specialty groups.
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