When employing a vet to write the content for your website or social media pages, the letters after their name might catch your eye. In some cases, there can be quite an impressive array… but do you know what they actually all mean? And why is it that different vets seem to have different veterinarian credentials? We’ll break it down for you here.
All vets will have at least two sets of letters after their name. The first lot varies depending on which university (vet school) that individual went to. In the UK the universities award the following letters after successful completion of the degree course –
- BA VetMB – Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (awarded by Cambridge University)
- BVetMed – Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (awarded by the Royal Veterinary College)
- BVM BVS BVMedSci – Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine, Bachelor of Veterinary Surgery, Bachelor of Veterinary Medical Sciences (awarded by Nottingham University)
- BVM&S or BVMS – Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (awarded by Edinburgh and Glasgow universities)
- BVMSci – Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Science (awarded by Surrey University)
- BVSc – Bachelor of Veterinary Science (awarded by Bristol or Liverpool University)
Although the letters differ, the result is the same. Any vet who has successfully completed their studies at vet school will have a degree that allows them to practice as a vet. This degree takes at least 5 years to complete in the UK.
In America, vets will instead have the letters DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) after their name or VMD (Veterinary Medical Doctor – awarded by the University of Pennsylvania) which shows that they have qualified from a veterinary school in the United States.
The other set of letters that all practising vets have following their name is MRCVS which stands for Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Veterinary surgeon is a protected title which means by law, only registered vets can practice acts of veterinary surgery as laid out here.
Some vets may have FRCVS instead of MRCVS which denotes them as a Fellow of the Royal Veterinary College of Veterinary Surgeons. This means that as well as being a member of the RCVS they have been recognised with a fellowship for their exceptional contributions towards the veterinary profession, veterinary knowledge, or clinical practice.
Some vets study for additional qualifications in their chosen area of interest. Vets will work towards these alongside their day job, attending lectures, writing up cases they see in practice and sitting examinations to complete their ‘certificate’. These achievements are recognised by additional letters after the vet’s name and could take a few years to complete. Some of the more common ones that you might see for vets working in general practice include – CertAVP (certificate in advance veterinary practice), PgC or PGCert (Postgraduate certificate) or GPCert (General Practitioner Certificate).
If they have studied a specific area of veterinary medicine (rather than a general one) then this will usually be recognised in the initials as well. This could be related to a certain species and/or subject area. For example – ‘PGCertSAM’ stands for a postgraduate certificate in small animal medicine and ‘CertAVP(Sheep)’ means they have a certificate in sheep health and production.
These qualifications don’t make the vet a specialist in their subject area but demonstrate that they have a keen interest and have carried out further training compared to a standard vet. Most of these certificates are equivalent to a master’s degree (level 7). Some vets with certificates apply to become ‘Advanced Practitioners’ which means demonstrating that they continue to meet certain RCVS criteria including carrying out many hours of ongoing training and continued professional development (CPD) in their subject area. Note that not all certificate holders decide to go on to apply for advanced practitioner status.
Vets who want to become a specialists in their field need to have achieved a post-graduate qualification to diploma level and must make an active contribution in their field (e.g. publishing papers), which is a higher level again than advanced practitioner status.
PhD or MSc
Some vets may have studied towards a master’s (MSc) or a doctorate (PhD) which could be in a veterinary subject or it could be something a little different (e.g. business administration – MBA). If they have successfully completed their studies, they will have these initials after their name also.
Any vet that has completed their qualification from vet school and is a member of the RCVS will be able to practice veterinary medicine and surgery, which includes writing about veterinary subjects too. Any additional letters denote an area of interest in a certain field of veterinary medicine. This is nice to have but doesn’t mean that one vet is any better or worse than another.
If you are still uncertain what the letters mean after your vet’s name, then why not ask them? I’m sure they will happily explain what their veterinarian credentials mean – after all, they will have worked very hard and should be proud to talk about their achievements!
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