The AVFP recognizes that there are special skills and knowledge required to provide effective veterinary primary care in a new era of human-animal interactions. The roles of companion animals are changing and will continue to do so.
In addition to proficiency in basic medical and surgical skills, the Veterinary Family Practitioner must also have special expertise in the following areas:
A key to successful health care is clear and thorough communication. The Veterinary Family Practice team must master the skills that will build rapport with the pet owner, elicit all of the owners' concerns and the pets' health issues, and enlist the clients' partnership in building and managing a life long health plan for the pet. Clients must feel confident that they have all of the information and support they need to make important health care decisions for their pets. The veterinary hospital staff must be a strong and effective team focused on maintaining the quality of life of the pet within the context of its human family.
The Veterinary Family Practice team is an essential resource for the community in areas of animal welfare and well-being, providing ethical leadership on questions of policy and regulations affecting animals and pet owners. AVFP promotes and supports the new roles of animals in our society. It is important to understand that human health and animal health are interrelated, and will become even more so as we confront the challenges of emerging and zoonotic diseases. The Veterinary Family Practitioner must have the knowledge, confidence and skills to interact with local and regional animal-oriented groups, human physical and mental health organizations, political entities and the media in order to be an effective resource to the community.
Veterinary education has emphasized technical expertise. There are many specialties, as there are in human medicine, providing advanced care in internal medicine, cardiology, ophthalmology, oncology, surgery, and many other areas. To be competent in primary care, the Veterinary Family Practitioner must be expert in areas that are not emphasized in traditional training, such as conducting a risk assessment for a patient based on a thorough genetic, behavioral, nutritional and physical evaluation. Based on that risk assessment, veterinarian and pet owner develop a lifestage health management plan, emphasizing prevention and wellness surveillance.
Veterinary Family Practice cares for the pet member of the family throughout its life, from puppy or kitten through middle age into old age and end of life. Veterinary Family Practice is a resource to help clients select the appropriate pet for their family. Veterinary Family Practice also educates clients and the community about zoonoses (diseases that spread from animals to people) and about new diseases (such as West Nile Virus and Avian Influenza). The Veterinary Family Practitioner is trained in the detection and prevention of animal abuse, the special needs of service animals and their owners, disaster medicine, and much more.