Johannes T. Lumeij, DVM, PhD, DECAMS
Associate Professor of Avian and Exotic Animal Medicine, Division of Avian and Exotic Animal Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiteit Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Although it has taken nearly two decades to achieve a framework for veterinary specialization in Europe, the structure for veterinary specialization in Europe as originally proposed by the Advisory Committee on Veterinary Training (ACVT) in 1992 now appears to be well founded. Briefly it consists of the various specialist colleges, the European Board of Veterinary Specialization (EBVS) formed by representatives of all the colleges, and a supervising body, the European Coordinating Committee for Veterinary Training (ECCVT) that can approve procedures for the recognition of European veterinary specialists. The ECCVT is formed by representative of EBVS, the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe (FVE) and the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE). Of the 21 colleges currently recognized, 8 deal with various aspects of the traditional companion animal, like dogs and cats, and one deals with medicine and surgery of birds, i.e., the European College of Avian Medicine and Surgery (ECAMS).
The basic training in veterinary aspects of small exotic mammals (rabbits, rodents, ferrets), reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates varies between the veterinary schools, but is generally marginal. The various specialist training programmes have an emphasis on canine and feline medicine and diplomats of the various colleges that cover companion animals (except for ECAMS diplomats), although they might have some specialist knowledge on some of the exotic animal diseases, often do not even know the basics like restraint and handling of exotic companion animals.
Despite the lack of a well structured training in exotic pet medicine there have been many developments in this emerging field of veterinary medicine and a is a vast amount of literature is available. Furthermore there are a lot of exotic pet owners who would be happy to get professional veterinary care for their animals. Establishment of a specialty in exotic pet medicine, like was done in the avian field with ECAMS, might be an answer to this problem.
It would create transparency for the public and would alleviate veterinary schools and the various colleges of the burden to incorporate exotic species in their curricula.
1. Lumeij JT, Herrtage ME. Veterinary specialization in Europe. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 2006 33(2): 176-179.