What is a Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist? How are they different from my family veterinarian?

An internist will review your pet’s history, evaluate any laboratory and radiology tests, and perform a complete physical exam.  An internist’s training prepares them to deal with complex and challenging cases.  Veterinary internists have training and experience in endoscopy, bronchoscopy, cystoscopy and temporary feeding tube placement.  Commonly treated cases referred to the internal medicine service include animals with diseases of the endocrine, gastrointestinal, urinary, and hematologic systems.

In addition to completing undergraduate training and four years of veterinary school, Board-certified Veterinary Specialists are similar to their human medical counterparts in that they have completed an internship and residency in their specialized field (an additional 3-5 years training).

In addition to this extensive training, a Board-certified Veterinary Specialist must pass rigorous examinations to achieve Board certification from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Specialists bring a greater understanding in the area of internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, or neurology, and have a greater knowledge of the unusual, the uncommon, or rare diseases. In addition, a specialist may have diagnostic equipment not generally used by your family veterinarian.

For additional information about veterinary internal medicine and some of the advances veterinary specialists have brought to pet health, including cardiology and oncology, please visit http://www.acvimfoundation.org/about/contributions.html 

What Do I Bring to my Referral Appointment?

Be sure to bring any relevant medical records or information to your first appointment. Ask your veterinarian for copies of any relevant medical tests, imaging studies, x-rays, or laboratory panels.

Remember, you also can do your part to maximize your pet's recovery by keeping your pet's traveling medical records organized and by strictly adhering to the recommendations of your veterinary team for the scheduling of follow up appointments, etc. At every appointment, be sure to write down any important recommendations, or ask the veterinarian or a staff member to write them down for you.

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