The VESPECON team welcomes specialists from all disciplines, because we know that accessibility to less popular specialties can be difficult for primary care veterinarians and clients. Our exotics specialists have years of experience and knowledge to share with the veterinary community, and they can do that through our video-based telemedicine services. VESPECON consultants, including exotics specialist Dr. Stacey Leonatti Wilkinson, find their work rewarding and want to share their experience.

What does a veterinary exotics specialist do?

The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) certifies exotic animal specialists in avian, exotic mammal, fish, and reptile and amphibian subcategories. Many exotics veterinarians choose to earn certifications in all these species, while others focus on a smaller range.

Exotics specialists can work in several settings but most commonly end up in private veterinary practice or large research and teaching institutions. A typical day often includes outpatient consultations, surgeries, and extensive client education. Husbandry and diet are major contributors to an exotic pet’s health and ensuring that clients understand their special pet’s specific needs can prevent many health issues.

How consulting with an exotics specialist can help veterinarians and pets

Exotics aren’t every veterinarian’s cup of tea, but most will encounter them occasionally in practice. If you are looking to improve your basic exotics skills or to learn advanced exotics care in your practice, consulting with a specialist can help. Experienced exotics veterinarians can also benefit from consulting when they aren’t sure about a case.

Dr. Wilkinson’s take on VESPECON

Our consultants take pride in what they do and love working with veterinarians through VESPECON. We asked Dr. Wilkinson to illustrate how she feels about her work.

Question: What do you like best about working with general practice veterinarians to help their clients and patients?
Answer: I just love being able to help! So many veterinarians are unsure about treating certain exotic pets, and so many exotic pet owners have to travel many hours to find a vet who can treat their pet. VESPECON helps bring accessible care to more pet owners and helps more vets feel confident treating exotics.

Q: How do you think VESPECON improves the lives of pets?
A: By helping bring access to specialty care to more animals. Many pet owners may not be able to afford referral or travel to a specialist, and this helps more animals get the care they need.

Q: How do you think VESPECON improves the lives of general practice veterinarians?
A: Hopefully, it makes things easier for them! By removing barriers to specialist access, they can improve the care they offer their patients and spend more time treating patients rather than looking things up, coordinating referrals, or trying to manage cases they aren’t comfortable with because a client refuses referral.

Q: Describe a situation where you were able to help a veterinarian with a difficult case.
A: I helped one doctor more than once with some of her complicated reptile cases and another doctor with differentials for a mass he was treating on a rat. With my help, he realized he did not want to attempt surgery on that one! 

Q: In what ways were the above situations rewarding for you?
A: They are all rewarding, because I feel like I can help someone who needs help and isn’t sure where to turn. There are some answers you can’t get from textbooks or online resources, and the knowledge of someone with experience can be so invaluable. I love being able to help other vets with that, build their confidence, and help them learn more about treating exotic pets.

Q: What would you say to a general practice veterinarian who is unsure about using VESPECON’s services?
A: Just give it a try! At least in the exotics world, there are no stupid questions. I guarantee we’ve heard it all, and we’ve worked with people of all experience levels. We’re here to help, and we want to help you, because we love expanding care for exotic pets!

You can consult with Dr. Wilkinson or the rest of the VESPECON team by visiting our website to sign up or request a new consultation. We are available for face-to-face chats at your fingertips, providing the confidence you need to practice higher-level medicine.