What is a residency and who is a Diplomate?

Residency is a clinically-focused intense training in one of nowadays several specialty fields within veterinary medicine. It is becoming very similar to postgraduate specialisation training in human medicine.

In general, to become a resident, one needs to graduate as a doctor of veterinary medicine and then complete at least 1 year of internship, a focused clinical training in general veterinary medicine. There may be additional requirements to apply for a specific residency training program and there is a high competition to get into training. Depending on the specialty, as well as specifics of the program within the specialty, residency training may take from 2 to 6 years.

Only once all the requirements of the residency training have been met (a number of patients treated for various oral, dental and maxillofacial conditions, training spent under supervision of a Diplomate, research activity documented with scientific publication(s), … just to expose a few), a resident can submit the application to become a candidate for a certification examination. It again depends on the specialty, but the examination in veterinary dentistry currently consists of 3 full days of examination of the candidate’s theoretical and practical knowledge. Surely – intense!

After passing all parts of the examination, the candidate becomes a Diplomate of a College.

In the specialty field of veterinary dentistry there are currently two Colleges – the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) and the European Veterinary Dental College (EVDC). These educational organizations, whose objective is the advancement of veterinary dentistry, set and evaluate the requirements that have to be met to complete the residency training and pass the certification examination. A Diplomate can then become registered, respectively, by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS) and European Board of Veterinary Specialisation (EBVS) as American or European Veterinary Specialist in Dentistry.

But this is not the end …. to keep the status of the Specialist, re-certification (documenting continuous clinical, educational and research activity) is needed (for EBVS) every 5 years. Achieving Diplomate and Specialist status is still relatively very rare in the field of veterinary dentistry – there are currently (January 2018) only 44 active Diplomates of EVDC (with additional 15 specialized in equine dentistry) and I am currently the only one practicing in Slovenia.