February 01, 2003


 AVMA Answers

Posted Jan. 15, 2003

AVMA Answers

What are the steps of the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates Certification Program and how does a candidate most effectively go through the program? — FOREIGN VETERINARY GRADUATE, PENNSYLVANIA

Dr. Elizabeth A. Sabin,
assistant director of the
AVMA Education and
Research Division and
staff consultant to the
ECFVG, responds:

The AVMA ECFVG assists state veterinary licensing boards in assessing the educational equivalence of graduates of nonaccredited veterinary schools so that these graduates may pursue licensure in the United States. The program has four steps that should be done sequentially.

Step one is to enroll in the program and provide proof of graduation from an AVMA-listed school. An AVMA-listed school is one that is recognized by the World Health Organization or the government of that country, and whose graduates can practice veterinary medicine in that country.

Candidates provide a copy of their diploma and final transcript, both in the language they were issued in and as a certified English translation. They also supply two photos. Our office will send a verification of graduation letter to the school administration, which includes the candidate's photo, and the school must send this back to the commission. Students in their final year of veterinary school can enroll in the ECFVG program, if they provide a letter from their school verifying they are in their final year.

Once enrolled, candidates can remain active in the program for two years without reenrolling. Candidates can complete step two, the English language requirement, by attaining passing scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language, Test of Spoken English, and Test of Written English. A candidate whose native language is English can complete step two by providing documentation of at least three years' full-time attendance at a high school in which the complete language of instruction was English. This can be a letter from the school's administration, or for U.S. schools, a copy of the diploma or final transcript. For U.S. citizens, GED certificates are also accepted.

Candidates should keep in mind that the ECFVG requires original score reports from the Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the English language examinations, and the ETS keeps originals only for two years. Once the ECFVG has the English language scores, they will stay valid as long as the person is active in the ECFVG program.

Step three is passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. The National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners administers the NAVLE, and all candidates who take the examination must be approved to take it through a state veterinary regulatory board. Candidates should check with the board in the state he or she wishes to apply to take the examination, because many states have specific application requirements. The deadline to apply is typically 60 days before the start of the computer-based test, which is offered twice a year.

Individuals must be proactive in asking that their scores be sent to the ECFVG. Candidates can request a score transfer at the time they apply to take the NAVLE, so that scores will be sent to the commission more quickly.

Step four is an assessment of hands-on clinical skills. This can be accomplished two ways. The first method is by doing a postgraduate evaluated clinical year at an AVMA-accredited college, going through basic mixed animal rotations in a teaching hospital. The skill level expected is that of a graduate of an AVMA-accredited school. Individuals apply to the evaluated clinical year through one of the 11 ECFVG-approved schools.

The other way to complete step four is to pass the Clinical Proficiency Examination. This is an intensive, hands-on, 3½-day examination, administered at several AVMA-accredited veterinary schools. Final-year students who have completed steps two and three can apply to be assigned a CPE date but can't take the test before step one is completed. Eligible candidates will receive CPE application materials directly from the ECFVG.

Once a candidate is done with the four steps, they receive an ECFVG certificate and are then eligible to complete the steps for licensure in most states.

For more information, visit www.avma.org/defaultecfvg.asp and www.nbvme.org.