Many veterinarians have spent time in their career building skill sets and expertise in various areas of the practice of veterinary medicine. Of course, this is something you would like to share with clients or potential clients in your communication materials such as websites, newsletters, and advertisements, but can you call yourself a Specialist?…the short answer is no.
A key responsibility of the veterinary profession is to ensure that the messaging provided to the public is not misleading. In British Columbia, the use of the term ‘specialist’ in the veterinary profession implies a higher level of training and education, and is reserved solely for veterinarians who have achieved diplomate status (board certified) in a specific area of expertise and have registered themselves as such with the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia.
What do the bylaws say?
Bylaws, Part 4 – Ethics & Standards, Div 4.4 Advertising and Marketing
239. A registrant must not refer to him or herself as, or infer that he or she is, a specialist, unless
(a) the registrant has been registered in the class of specialty private practice registration pursuant to [section 2.14], or
(b) the registrant holds a diplomate status that has been recognized by the registration committee.
So what CAN I call myself?
If you have spent time developing your skills as a veterinary professional in a specific area but are not a Diplomate registered as a Specialist with the CVBC, you could provide messaging in your advertisements that describe you as a veterinarian with:
- Special interest in…
- A passion for…
- Experience in …
- Additional training in…
It is a violation of the CVBC bylaws and subject to a potential complaint to the Investigation Committee if you call yourself a specialist in communications with the public or in any of your advertising materials (including websites, social media, newsletters, pamphlets, etc) and you are not a Diplomate registered as a Specialist with the CVBC.
- Do not tell your clients that you are referring them to a “specialist” unless you are referring to a Diplomate registered as a specialist with the CVBC
- Do not tell your clients you are a specialist unless you are a Diplomate registered as a Specialist with the CVBC
- Do not advertise veterinarians as specialists unless they are a Diplomate registered as a Specialist with the CVBC.
- Review your advertising materials regularly and if you have questions about compliance with the CVBC bylaws, please feel free to contact us. You may also find additional elements of 4.4 Ethics and Standards helpful in this review process.
As always, our door is open, please feel free to reach out to the CVBC if you have questions or need clarification on this topic.