There are different levels of postgraduate qualifications available for veterinary surgeons. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (body every practising vet in the UK has to be a member of) has a three tier system for post graduate qualification:
The Certificate is the first level of postgraduate qualification awarded by RCVS, and indicates that the holder is a competent clinician who has proved their experience and expertise by examination in their chosen subject. A list of RCVS Certificate holders is included in the back of the RCVS Registers and Directory. Certificate holders are entitled to place the appropriate letters (CertVD) after their name to indicate their achievement. The Certificate in Veterinary Dermatology should be attainable by all those working in general practice or another branch of the profession in which experience is being gained in an approved practice. Candidates should be involved in dermatology and in the diagnosis and treatment of dermatological cases for at least 10% of their time over a period of two years. Candidates are advised to arrange short periods of time at veterinary centres where dermatological work is carried out in order to gain further intensive experience.
The old certificate has now been replaced and new modular certificates have been introduced.
The modular certificate scheme was introduced in 2007. The modular certificate scheme is a new, more flexible approach to veterinary post-graduate qualifications. It offers manageably-sized modules, so candidates can collect credits as they are achieved, even if their interests or practice area subsequently change. The modular certificate scheme is more appropriate, accessible and attainable than traditional end-loaded examinations, for practising veterinarians working in a wide range of practice areas.
The modular certificate structure leads to qualifications entitled Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (CertAVP). The Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice will eventually replace the existing certificates for all subjects, and offer a number of new options too, such as emergency critical care.
The Diploma is the second level of postgraduate qualification awarded by RCVS, and indicates that the holder is a competent clinician who has proved their experience and expertise by examination in their chosen subject. A list of RCVS Diploma holders is included in the back of the RCVS Registers and Directory. Diploma holders are entitled to place the appropriate letters (DVD) after their name to indicate their achievement.
RCVS Recognised Specialists
RCVS Recognised Specialist status is not easily achieved. To be included on the List of Recognised Specialists, an individual must have achieved a postgraduate qualification at least at Diploma level, and must additionally satisfy the RCVS that they make an active contribution to their specialty, have national and international acclaim and publish widely in their field. A Recognised Specialist must also be available for referral by other veterinary colleagues. Recognised Specialist status is time-bound, and the individual must reapply for recognition every five years (or earlier in certain cases) to maintain their name on the list.
This is the highest tier of specialization in the UK.
Further information about the postgraduate quailification system can be found on the RCVS website.
European Diplomas and Specialists
A qualification similar to the RCVS diploma (which is being phased out in severeal disciplines in order to avoid duplication if both diplomas have a similar level) on a European level has been created in veterinary dermatology. Diploma holders are entitled to place the appropriate letters (Dipl ECVD) after their name to indicate their achievement.
What is the difference between a European 'diplomate' and a 'specialist'?
A diplomate is someone who has successfully passed the examination of an EBVS-recognised College or who helped found the college. A diplomate is classed as either 'founding', 'active' (working in the discipline) or 'non-active' (not working in the discipline). All diplomates are re-evaluated every five years by their college. A Specialist is someone who is either an active or founding diplomate of an EBVS-recognised college and who is practicing that speciality for more than 50% of their time.
For more information on Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and European College of Veterinary Dermatology (ECVD) qualifications, please refer to their respective websites by clicking the links.