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What’s the difference between a DVM and a VMD degree?

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What’s the difference between a DVM and a VMD degree?

Hey, Doc!  Did you get your license at the DMV?


                Since I am a VMD and all our other doctors are DVMs, I am frequently asked by our clients, “What is the difference between a DVM and a VMD?”  What do all those letters mean?  DVM logically stands for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (not to be confused with DMV. or Department of Motor Vehicles which is quite a different entity!).  Pretty straightforward, right?  So, then, what is a VMD?  Did someone mix the letters up?  Did your pet’s doctor attend some fly-by-night veterinary school?  Not at all!  A VMD is the exact same degree as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine; however, the letters “VMD” stand for the Latin terminology, Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris

A VMD degree is currently only conferred on veterinarians who have attended the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia, PA.  Being an Ivy League School steeped in history and tradition, the school continues to use the Latin phrasing.  Sounds prestigious, doesn’t it?  But really, it’s just a plain old DVM degree with a fancy Latin twist.  So, if you’re seeing a VMD, you know he or she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Patton was a VMD, too!  

By the way, the University of Pennsylvania is a private institution and is in no way affiliated with Penn State University, a state school.  The two are sometimes confused.  Penn State is a great school despite what Dr. Schmidt might say, but it does not have a veterinary program. 

 If a veterinarian received his or her degree in the United Kingdom, Australia or a few other foreign countries, he or she may be a BVSc or Bachelor of Veterinary Science which is equivalent to a DVM or VMD in the United States. 

Veterinary specialists may also have a string of letters beyond their DVM or VMD.  For instance, a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist would be a called a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists or DACVO.  A skin specialist or dermatologist would be DACVD for Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology.   There are currently twenty one veterinary specialties recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (or AVMA to use another acronym) including orthopedics, surgery, oncology, internal medicine, etc.

                 So, hopefully this takes some of the mystery out of those jumbles of letters you see behind your vet’s name and you won’t need a PhD to figure out what they mean!

                This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.

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