Just as physicians are MD’s or DO’s, and dentists are DMD’s or DDS’s, veterinarians also have initials after our names. (You may have caught onto this, as these initials play into the name of this blog!) All veterinarians who graduate from a 4-year accredited veterinary school receive one of two degrees: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris.
What is the difference between a VMD and a DVM? The only veterinary school in the United States to award the VMD degree is the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Why are us Penn grads so different (and special)? The veterinary school at Penn is one of the oldest in the nation, founded in 1884, and actually began as part of the medical school. The dental school also emerged from the medical school at Penn, which is why dentists who graduate from Penn are DMD’s and not DDS’s. Graduates of all other veterinary schools in this country receive a DVM degree. On the east coast, VMD’s are prevalent, but we are a scarce breed in other parts of the country.
All VMD’s and DVM’s receive similar training, and must complete a rigorous, four year curriculum to practice veterinary medicine. (This is, of course, after graduating from a four year undergraduate program.) Some veterinarians then elect to proceed with an optional residency, such as surgery, dermatology, internal medicine, opthalmology, or a variety of other specialties. Veterinarians who complete a residency and receive board certification have even more “alphabet soup”, such as DACVIM (Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine) or DACVS (Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons).