What is a Veterinary Specialist?
Veterinary specialists are graduates of veterinary schools who choose to continue studying one type of medicine, surgery or species after graduating from veterinary school. They must complete 3 to 4 more years of additional training, usually in the form of an internship and residency program. After they complete their advanced training, they must submit their credentials to the professional group that represents their specialty i.e. American College of Veterinary Surgery, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, etc. Once they meet their groups’ preliminary criteria, the specialists must pass a multi-day examination. After passing this exam they become a member of the group, called a Diplomate, and are considered board certified in their specialty. There are about 37 veterinary specialties recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Why do I need a referral?
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine encourages animal owners to obtain a referral from their family veterinarian whenever possible. This ensures the proper transfer of medical information, which is beneficial to the animal and the Veterinary Specialist and will help your companion receive the best care possible.
When should I seek a referral?
Animal owners should request a referral when:
- The animal's disease is uncommon, complicated, or undiagnosed after standard testing.
- They would like an informed, neutral second opinion on their animal's condition.
- The outcomes of the current treatments are not going well or as expected.
- The animal requires a sophisticated procedure that is offered by a specialty hospital.
- The animal can benefit from 24-hour monitoring provided by a referral hospital.
What is Veterinary Internal Medicine?
Veterinary internal medicine is a veterinary specialty that includes diseases of the gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, respiratory, urogenital, immune and lymphatic systems. Some of the organs in these systems are the oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, urethra, nasal cavity, trachea, bronchi, lungs, uterus, ovaries, prostate, vulva, prepuce, thyroid gland, adrenal gland, parathyroid gland, pituitary gland, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels.
Patients may be referred to us for these and other problems:
- Multiple disease conditions that are very difficult to manage
- Disorders requiring specialized diagnostics such as ultrasound or endoscopy and treatments such as chemotherapy or radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism
- Complicated endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, or Cushing's disease
- Unresolved breathing problems
- Bleeding disorders or anemia
- Infectious diseases
- Liver disease
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
- Kidney and bladder diseases
- Nutritional support with feeding tube placement or partial parenteral nutrition
How long does my pet have to stay in the hospital when they have a procedure done?
On procedure day we have the patient dropped off in the morning and procedures are planned to be done in the afternoon. After the procedure is done, the patient is then in recovery where their vital signs are monitored carefully while they awaken fully. The doctor will then examine the patient again and make sure they are awake and ready to come home to you.
For IM cases the appointment and procedure are typically performed in the same day and this requires that the pet spend a portion of the day at the hospital. The length of this stay is dependent upon the procedure and condition. Many IM patients are outpatient and do not require an overnight stay.
For surgery patients - the surgery is scheduled in accordance with the owners schedule and patient condition but these patients typically spend one or more nights in the hospital.
What should I expect during my initial visit with a specialist?
- You will be asked to complete an intake form (or download and complete a form at home).
- You will be shown to an exam room, and a veterinary technician will go over your pet’s history and your current concerns.
- The doctor will review this information, as well as records from your family veterinarian and examine your pet.
- The next step in diagnostics or procedures (i.e. Surgery, Ultrasound, Endoscopy, etc.) will be discussed.
- A detailed estimate of diagnostics/procedures will be discussed with you.
- The above consultation process will take approximately 30-45 minutes.
What happens next?
- Diagnostics and procedures will be done as soon as possible. Your pet may need to spend the day – they will be made comfortable and monitored by technicians at all times.
- Surgeries will be performed within a day or two of the consultation, although emergencies will be treated as such and done immediately.
- You will be called after the surgery or procedure has been completed and given all available information on your pet’s condition.
- Results of some radiograph and lab tests may not be available immediately, but you will be informed when to expect them.
- Your family veterinarian will also be contacted with all results as soon as they are available.
What if my pet is hospitalized?
- You will be contacted daily with updates on your pet.
- You may visit your pet in the hospital – a call prior to the visit is recommended.
- You are welcome to call for updates while your pet is hospitalized – our veterinary technicians will be happy to speak with you.
- There is always a veterinarian in the hospital and supervising the care of your pet, as well as registered technicians caring for them.
- When your pet is discharged you will receive a written summary and instructions on home care.
What else should I know?
- All radiographs taken at CARE are reviewed by board certified radiologists.
- We always work in conjunction with your primary care veterinarian, and can work with other specialists as needed.
- You will be given all of the information and support needed to make decisions about your pet’s care.
- We accept all major credit cards and CareCredit to help meet your financial needs.