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Seeking clarity on specialisation
  1. C. M. Elwood, MA, VetMB, CertSAC, MSc, PhD, MRCVS, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA1 and
  2. C. M. Marr, BVMS, MVM, PhD, DEIM, DipECEIM, MRCVS2
  1. RCVS & European Specialist in Small Animal Medicine, Davies Veterinary Specialists, Manor Farm Business Park, Higham Gobion, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 3HR
  2. RCVS & European Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine, Rossdales Equine Hospital and Diagnostic Centre, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7NN

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Clive Elwood and Celia Marr argue that there is a need to improve the definition and regulation of specialists to avoid confusion among the profession and the public

THE Lowe Report (2009) on veterinary expertise in food animal production states: ‘Information about what counts as specialisation is unclear and confused … the profession’s concept of specialisation is inward-looking and orientated towards fellow professionals rather than aimed at informing the customer.'

Although Lowe was primarily interested in food animals, this assessment is applicable across the species and disciplines. Unfortunately the term ‘specialist’ is not protected and is used, at times, to imply a level of expertise that is not justified, leaving the customer unable to make truly informed treatment choices. As specialisation has developed within the profession, so have specialist-level treatments and facilities, with referral an accepted option for many cases. Referral practices are not specifically regulated, however, nor are there universally accepted standards of clinical governance and audit.

There is a clear need to improve the definition and regulation of specialists …

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