Become a Specialist

Getting Certified

Our Diplomates are among the most ambitious, forward-thinking professionals in veterinary care, driven by a commitment to the well-being of animals and those who care for them. ABVP Diplomate veterinarians work in a variety of settings, including private practice, veterinary schools, and industry.

The ABVP Application process is currently offline. It will re-open October 2024.

The ABVP is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organization™ for certification of its 12 recognized veterinary specialties.

A STEP ABOVE

ABVP Certification Sets You Apart

The ABVP certifies veterinary practitioners with exceptional knowledge, skill, and competency in the care of the total patient, and are certified in clinical practice for the species in which certification is granted. Clinical practice, as it pertains to veterinarians, is the art and science of applying medical knowledge to animals for their care and the alleviation and prevention of their diseases. Most veterinarians performing broad-based clinical practice are not board-certified.

The ABVP board-certified veterinarian has demonstrated they are capable of providing a level of clinical practice that is clearly superior to the norm of the profession.

The ABVP undergoes a comprehensive evaluation by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS), a committee of the American Veterinary Medical Association, every three years to ensure that we are maintaining the required standards for our certification process.

Follow the right route FOR YOU

Ways to Become an ABVP Specialist

Private Practitioner Route

ABVP has practitioner in its name. Veterinarians in clinical practice who demonstrate exceptional patient care and abilities may apply after a minimum of 4 years in practice. The application process will require the practitioner to show evidence of advanced skills and knowledge of the desired RVS category.

Hybrid Route

All veterinarians interested in attaining Diplomate status with the ABVP are encouraged to first download and read the Applicant Handbook. The Applicant Handbook provides answers to all commonly asked questions and systematically guides you through the application and credentials process. Once you are ready to apply, you will need to create an online account. All applications, fees, and credentials are submitted via your account.

ABVP Residency Route

The ABVP offers over 50 different ABVP-approved residency programs in the United States and abroad for those interested in pursuing the residency pathway to certification. ABVP’s residency programs are not listed in the match program unless the institution or clinic chooses to do so on its own. If you are interested in any of our listed programs, please contact the program directly for details on the application as each program is different.

An ABVP residency meets one requirement for admission after completion of an internship or at least one year of practice in the specialty area and devoting a minimum of two years of specialty training in an ABVP-approved residency program in the RVS.

The ABVP Residency Handbook has instruction and guidance for clinical practice disciplines in the species-related areas.

Specialties

Recognized Practices

Each Recognized Veterinary Specialty (RVS) includes veterinarians who are exceptional leaders in their fields. ABVP’s 12 Recognized Veterinary Specialties are:

Avian Practice

The Avian Practice category is ABVP’s second-largest Recognized Veterinary Specialty. Most Avian Diplomates 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 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 can 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 4 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 1 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.

The Avian Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Beef Cattle Practice

ABVP Beef Cattle Practice Diplomates 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 can 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 4 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 1 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.

The Beef Cattle Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Canine & Feline Practice

The Canine and Feline Practice category is ABVP’s largest Recognized Veterinary Specialty. Most Diplomates 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 Canine and Feline 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 Canine and Feline 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 can 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 Canine and Feline Diplomates but caseload can be limiting.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 4 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 1 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.

The Canine and Feline Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Dairy Practice

ABVP Dairy Practice Diplomates 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 can 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 4 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 1 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.

The Dairy Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Equine Practice

ABVP Equine Practice Diplomates are mostly found 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 can 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 4 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 1 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.

The Equine Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Exotic Companion Mammal Practice

ABVP Exotic Companion Mammal Practice Diplomates work in a variety of settings. 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 Exotic Companion Mammal Diplomates are in academia where they teach and perform clinical service and research.

Veterinarians who pursue Exotic Companion Mammal 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 can 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 4 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 1 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.

The Exotic Companion Mammal Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Feline Practice

The majority of ABVP Feline Practice Diplomates 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 can 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 4 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 1 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.

The Feline Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Fish Practice

ABVP Fish Practice Diplomates work in private practice as well as industry, government and academia. Diplomates are expected to have the expertise to serve as consultants for the aquaculture industry and be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery for the individual fish in addition to herd health, production, and economics.

Veterinarians who pursue Fish Practice certification have a caseload that may include pet fish (e.g. personal aquaria and pond species like koi), aquaculture production (e.g. ornamental, food, bait, and restoration), public aquarium, lab animal, and/or natural resource and wild fisheries. Some Fish Practitioners work in all these areas while others are more specialized in one or more. They have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases that may include population medicine (“herd health”) and can work them up and manage them at a high standard. Diplomates frequently consult and provide continuing education to producers, students, industry, and other veterinarians. The typical workload is 15% or more of time spent weekly seeing fish cases or performing duties directly related to fish practice. Veterinarians who spend less time than this may not be successful in credentialing. The type of cases seen is important as well as the number. Aquatic invertebrates, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals are not included.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 4 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with various fish 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 1 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.

The Fish Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Food Animal Practice

The Food Animal Practice category has active Diplomates mostly 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 can 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 4 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 1 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.

The Food Animal Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Reptile & Amphibian Practice

The Reptile and Amphibian Practice is one of ABVP’s newest categories, with diplomates in a variety od clinical settings. 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 Reptile and Amphibian Diplomates are in academia where they teach and perform clinical service and research.

Veterinarians who pursue Reptile and Amphibian 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 can 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 Reptile and Amphibian 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 4 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 1 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.

The Reptile and Amphibian Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Shelter Medicine Practice

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 4 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 1 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.

The Shelter Medicine Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

Swine Health Management

The Swine Health Management category has Diplomates who work in private practice as well as industry and academia. Diplomates have the expertise to serve as consultants for the swine 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 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 can 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 4 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with swine prior to taking the certification exams. They should 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 1 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.

The Swine Health Management Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

There are special requirements for Swine Health Management applicants in addition to the standard ABVP credentialing and examination process.

Residency Locations

Avian

Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic
Indianapolis, IN
Contact: Angela Lennox

Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital
San Diego, CA
Contact: Jeff Jenkins

Bird and Exotic Pet Wellness Center
Toledo, OH
Contact: Susan E. Orosz

Burwood Bird and Animal Hospital
Burwood, Australia
Contact: Pat Macwhirter

Centre Vétérinaire Laval
Laval, QC Canada
Contact: Julie Hébert

Cornell University
Ithaca, NY
Contact: James K. Morrisey

Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA
Contact: Tom Tully

Medical Center for Birds
Oakley, CA
Contact: Brian Speer

North Coast Bird & Exotic Specialties
Norton, OH
Contact: Gary Riggs

Seavs-Stahl Exotic Animal Veterinary Services
Fairfax, VA
Contact: Scott Stahl

University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN
Contact: Michael P. Jones

Veterinary Center for Birds and Exotics
Bedford Hills, NY
Contact: Laurie Hess

Beef Cattle

Iowa State University
Ames, IA
Contact: Patrick Gorden

Canine and Feline

Aloha Pet and Bird Hospital
Indian Harbor Beach, FL
Contact: Manuel Pepen

Animal Medical Hospital
Charlotte, NC
Contact: Susan Coe

Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine
240 Wise Center Drive
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Contact: Diana L. Eubanks

Pet Crossing Animal Hospital & Dental Clinic
Bloomington, MN
Contact: Stephen Barghusen

Stratham-Newfields Veterinary Hospital
8 Main Street
Newfields, NH 03856
Contact: Sonnya Dennis

UGA Pet Health Center
125 Veterinary Loop
Athens, GA 30602
(706) 542-1984
Contact: Sara Gonzalez

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI
Contact: Amy Nichelason

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Blacksburg, VA
Contact: Michael Nappier

Dairy

Cornell University’s Ambulatory and Production Medicine
231
Ithaca, NY 14853
607.253.3140

Iowa State University
Ames, IA
Contact: Patrick Gorden

North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC
Contact: Kevin Anderson

Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN
Contact: Jonathan Townsend

University of California, Davis
Tulare, CA
Contact: Deniece Williams

University of Illinois
Urbana, IL
Contact: Dennis French

University of Pennsylvania
Kennett Square, PA
Contact: Billy Smith

University of Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown, PEI Canada
Contact: Shawn McKenna

Equine

Colorado State University (CSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital
300 W Drake Rd
Fort Collins, CO 80523
Contact: Luke Bass, DVM, MS, DABVP

Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA
Contact: Chuck McCauley

Sharjah Equine Hospital
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Contact: Marcos Lores

Steinbeck Country Equine Clinic-Salinas
Salinas, CA
Contact: Sarah DeSante

Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
Contact: Cleet Griffin

University of Pennsylvania
Kennett Square, PA
Contact: Billy Smith

University of Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown, PEI Canada
Contact: Kathleen MacMillan

University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada
Contact: Michelle Husulak

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Blacksburg, VA
Contact: Sharon Witonsky

Exotic Companion Mammal

Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic
Indianapolis, IN
Contact: Angela Lennox

Beecroft Animal Specialist & Emergency Hospital
991E Alexandra Road #01-27
Singapore/119973/Asia
(+65 69961812)
Contact: Rina Maguire
Blue Pearl Specialty + Emergency Medicine for Pets
Tampa, FL
Contact: Peter Helmer

Centre Vétérinaire Laval
Laval, QC Canada
Contact: Julie Hébert

Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS
Contact: David Eshar

University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN
Contact: Cheryl Greenacre

Western College of Veterinary Medicine
Saskatchewan, Canada
Contact: Dennilyn Parker

Feline

Cat Care Clinic
320 S. Yonge Street
Ormond Beach, FL
386-671-0747
Contact: Amber Carter

Just Cats Veterinary Hospital
The Woodlands, TX
Contact: Cynthia McManis

The Feline Medical Center
Houston, TX
Contact: Nicole Moran

Food Animal

Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO
Contact: Page Dinsmore

Iowa State University
Ames, IA
Contact: Patrick J. Gorden

Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK
Contact: Robert Streeter

University of Pennsylvania
Kennett Square, PA
Contact: Billy Smith

University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada
Contact: Christopher Luby

Reptile and Amphibian

North Coast Bird & Exotic Specialties
Norton, OH
Contact: Gary Riggs

Pet Hospital of Penasquitos
San Diego, CA
Contact: Thomas Boyer

Shelter Medicine

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA) Julie Morris Shelter

Oregon State
Portland, OR
503-285-7722
Contact: Kris Otteman
San Diego Humane Society
Contact: Zarah Hedge

Wisconsin
Madison, WI
Contact: Sandra Newbury

Applications

Timeline for Applications

Applications are due Jan 15 annually. Applicants are notified by mid-May if the application was accepted and they are then eligible to take the exam. The examination is on the first Saturday of November annually.