204 Anzac Highway,
Plympton SA 5038

VOR = Specialist Referral Practice, not ‘Special-Interest’ General Practice

At VOR we are pleased to say all our clinicians are now either Registered Specialists or are currently undergoing specialist training in Veterinary Ophthalmology. As an Ophthalmology-only practice we stick to what we are good at and leave general practices to do what they are good at.

So What Makes a Veterinary Specialist?

In Australia, it is actually illegal to call yourself a veterinary specialist in a particular field unless you have an accepted specialist qualification in that field, your credentials have been accepted by the Australian Veterinary Board Council and your registration has been accepted by the appropriate State Veterinary Surgeons Board. It is also illegal to call yourself an ‘-ologist’ (eg ophthalmologist) in your field unless you are a recognised specialist.

There are currently only four post-graduate qualifications accepted as part of Veterinary Specialist Registration requirements in Australia:

Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Science
Diplomate of an American Veterinary College
Diplomate of a European Veterinary College
Diplomate of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

While some general practices or practitioners may promote a ‘special interest’ in Veterinary Ophthalmology, this does not equate to any specialist qualifications or training.

Lower level ‘special-interest’ qualifications such as a Member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Science, or a Certificate of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons are not specialist qualifications. Non-qualifications like paid subscriptions to professional organisations or special interest groups can also have the appearance of further specialist qualifications to the less informed.

How do you get a Specialist Qualification?

To be allowed to sit the examinations for a specialist qualification a candidate needs to have made the commitment of completing a pre-approved supervised residency training program over a number of years that fulfils strict and demanding credentials. Once those required credentials have been completed and accepted by the relevant specialty College, the candidate can then move on to the demanding exam process, with no guarantee of passing.

What Difference Does it Make?

For those of us that have done the hard yards to specialisation, we know the difference only too well. Specialist training and qualifications ensure minimum standards of knowledge and expertise. Claiming to have a special interest in a field and subscribing to a list of special interest groups may look impressive, but there is no quality control on the skills of any such individuals. To specialists it can be frustrating when others with an interest in their discipline but have not committed to the same standards are slow to correct any misapprehensions within the veterinary profession or general public regarding their non-specialist status.

Tony Read
Registered Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology