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What is a veterinary Specialist?

What is a veterinary Specialist?

Veterinary care has advanced significantly over the last 10-15 years and is now closer aligned, in terms of treatment capabilities, to the human medical profession than ever before. Just like doctors, no vet can be an expert in every field. Primary care vets will refer your pet to a Specialist for a complex condition or procedure outside of their level of expertise much in the same way as a GP doctor might refer you to a hospital consultant.

Specialist status is not easily achieved. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the governing body of the veterinary profession, has very stringent requirements that vets must meet.

To become a Specialist, a vet must focus entirely on their area of specialisation for three to five years, training under the direct supervision of an experienced Specialist. During this time, they will need to examine, diagnose and treat a high number of cases in that specific field in order to allow them eligibility to sit advanced ‘diploma level’ examinations. Once passed however vets need to demonstrate an active contribution to their specialty, and develop both national and international acclaim in their fields before the RCVS will recognise them as Specialists. This is the highest level of expertise that a vet can attain in the UK. Specialist status however is time-bound, meaning that Specialist vets must reapply for recognition and reaccreditation every five years to ensure they maintain a Specialist level of knowledge and skill.

As well as offering continuing education to other members of our profession, our vets regularly attend scientific meetings in order to keep up-to-date in their specific fields of expertise. When required they travel to the USA and Europe learning new techniques and exchanging ideas with other international experts

Due to the rigorous training, examination process and reaccreditation required to gain Specialist status you can rest assured that when referred to one of our Specialists you are in the most highly clinically trained hands possible.

Registered Veterinary Nurses

All our nurses are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Veterinary nurse training is a minimum of two years with comprehensive theoretical and practical elements. All of our nurses have qualified through the university degree route, over four years and have gained experience in University Referral Hospitals. Some of our nurses have additional qualifications in veterinary nursing, such as; certificates in emergency and critical care and advanced diplomas.

You can find out more about our nurses on our website.

Further information

  • – Click on Find a Vet for information on Specialist qualifications and to find Specialists. This page also gives information on seeking a second opinion, or seeking referral to a Specialists.
  • – This website links to all the European Specialist Colleges and also lists all the Specialists in all the disciplines throughout Europe. You can click on the links to the Specialist Colleges and find out more about what training European Specialists have to do to gain their Diploma.
  •  – This link takes you to the British College of Veterinary Specialists. This gives information on how to determine if the vet you are seeing is a Specialist or is residency trained (ie eligible to become a Specialist)

COVID-19 Update

Our practices are open and providing routine, urgent and emergency referral care for your patients. We continue to work safely with social distancing and a combination of telephone consultations and on-site examinations. GP vets should contact our referral centres directly for clinical advice on cases.