Posted: January 20, 2010, 4:50 p.m. EST
© Isabelle Francais/BowTie Inc.
Exotic small mammals like this chinchilla are the focus of the Exotic Companion Mammal practice specialty available through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.
Meet some veterinarians who know a lot about exotic small animal pets. In December 2009, the first-ever diplomates to achieve certification for the new Exotic Companion Mammal specialty from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners were announced. Exotic companion mammals include ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, chinchillas, gerbils, sugar gliders, hedgehogs and other small pet mammals.
The eight veterinarians who are now certified in the Exotic Companion Mammal specialty are: Dr. Jennifer Graham (Massachusetts), Dr. Cheryl Greenacre (Tennessee), Dr. Cathy Johnson-Delaney (Washington), Dr. Joerg Mayer (Massachusetts), Dr. Sandra Mitchell (Maine), Dr. Connie Orcutt (Massachusetts), Dr. David Vella (Australia) and Dr. Robert Wagner (Pennsylvania).
The quest to have an ECM specialty began in 2004. Michael Dutton, DVM, DABVP(C/F), DABVP(Av), co-founder of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, became chair of the organizing committee for the Exotic Companion Mammal specialty. He and others petitioned for the specialty, and the American Veterinary Medical Association granted it provisional recognition in 2008.
Dutton is currently the ECM regent and he said that the first year for the ECM practice went fine, but noted some room for improvement. “The exam needs fine tuning,” he said. “2009 was also the year the ABVP changed exam companies, and there were logistical issues across all the Practice Groups.”
A total of 46 veterinarians became new diplomates in 2009, including the eight who received certification in the ECM practice. According to its website, the ABVP differs from other specialty boards of the American Veterinary Medical Association because it offers species-specific certification. The ABVP currently awards certification in 10 categories: Avian; Beef Cattle; Canine and Feline; Dairy; Equine; Exotic Companion Mammal; Feline; Food Animal; Reptile and Amphibian; Swine Health Management.
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Part of the process to become a diplomate involves the veterinarian submitting his or her credentials to the ABVP, being accepted and passing both specialty and practical exams for the chosen specialty. Exams usually occur in November.
The ABVP formed in 1978, and the first 41 diplomates were certified in 1981 in three possible categories: companion animal; equine and food animal. Currently, the ABVP has more than 850 diplomates. Recertification is required every 10 years.
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