A board-certified small animal surgeon has completed a rigorous training program comprised of four years of undergraduate plus four years of veterinary education, a one-year internship, and a three-year small animal surgical residency. They must publish original research and then pass the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) board exam. Upon passing the national exam, they receive Diplomate status, signifying their expertise in surgery. Prior to 2004, a Diplomate trained in either small or large animal surgery had the same post-nominal initials (DACVS). After 2004, ACVS distinguished those only trained in small animal surgery as DACVS-SA, and those only trained in large animal/equine surgery as DACVS-LA.