Demand For Veterinary Surgical Specialists On The Rise

There was a time not too long ago when the family doctor would manage all aspects of their patients' medical needs, including surgery. Eventually, increased understanding of injury and disease combined with advanced surgical techniques gave rise to the network of the surgical specialists available in human medicine today. The field of veterinary care has seen a similar rise in the role of the surgical specialist.

There are several reasons for the increase in specialty surgery in veterinary medicine. The first parallels what was seen in human medicine. Rapid advances in the medical profession made it difficult for general practitioners to remain current with the technology and techniques required to perform complex surgical methods. If a general veterinary practitioner is faced with a medical situation outside their area of expertise, they have the option of referring their client to a specialist.

Second, the concept and belief of animals as a part of the family has been a powerful influence. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association of 1,189 pet owners in the United States and Canada, 74% responded that they would go into debt for their animals' well-being. As well as being considered part of the family, livestock owners and breeders are concerned about the amount of money they have invested in their animal. Owners' awareness of the veterinary care options available for their animals are increasing and more owners want them to have the best treatment available, and the most qualified person to perform that treatment. According to a recent survey by the Companion Animal and Family Health Council, 73% of veterinarians agreed that their clients request referrals more frequently than five years ago.

The organization that is leading the way in providing advancements in the research and practice of veterinary surgery is the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). Established in 1965, ACVS is the American Veterinary Medical Association specialty board which sets the standards for advanced professionalism in veterinary surgery.

ACVS assures quality veterinary medical services are offered to the public by establishing and monitoring veterinary surgical residency programs; maintaining fair and reasonable examination standards; abiding by a policy for humane care and use of animals; and, by promoting and funding surgical research.

Only veterinarians who have successfully completed the rigorous certification requirements of the ACVS are Diplomates of the organization and have earned the right to be called board-certified specialists in veterinary surgery. A board-certified surgeon has dedicated four to five years of their professional career to advanced training in veterinary surgery.

"The amount of training an ACVS board-certified surgeon is required to have goes far beyond the technical aspects of performing surgery," said Dr. Ron Bright, president of ACVS. "Our training includes an extensive amount of time dedicated to all aspects of pre- and post-operative care. This breadth of training helps ensure that we provide an optimum level of care for all our patients."

Rapid advances in veterinary surgery, animals accepted as a member of the family, owners increased awareness of veterinary care options coupled with their desire to seek the best care available are all factors that drive the increasing demand for veterinary surgical specialists. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons offers animal owners a resource comprised of the best-trained, best-informed surgical professionals available. Horse owners can access a board-certified ACVS practitioner in their area by going to the ACVS web site at or by asking for a referral from their horse's primary care provider.

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