The Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates will be conducting a survey of fourth-year students and clinical faculty at all AVMA-accredited veterinary schools in the United States, as a first step in ensuring that the ECFVG program is adequately assessing the clinical skills of foreign veterinarians who intend to pursue licensure in the United States.
The survey, which is Web-based, will be conducted from Feb. 15 through July 1, to maximize the number of respondents. It has the approval of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.
"The whole goal of this is to ensure that the clinical skills assessed in step 4 of the ECFVG program are those clinical skills that schools and future employers expect of the graduates of accredited schools," said Dr. Beth Sabin, assistant director of the AVMA Education and Research Division and staff consultant to the ECFVG.
To meet the educational prerequisite for licensure in most states, graduates of non-AVMA-accredited veterinary colleges can go through the four steps of the ECFVG program. They must provide proof of graduation from an AVMA-listed veterinary institution, prove fluency in English, pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, and demonstrate they have the necessary clinical skills. They can fulfill this last step by passing a hands-on examination or successfully completing one year of evaluated postgraduate clinical work at an AVMA-accredited college.
Several years ago, it became clear to the ECFVG that the clinical year experience varied from school to school in terms of length and caseload. "We need to better standardize (the year) if we are going to keep doing it," said Dr. Deborah Kochevar, who is on the ECFVG, representing the AVMA Council on Education. "And if we are going to standardize it better, we have to find out what people are doing in their senior year."
Dr. Kochevar says the survey is in line with the Council on Education's focus on outcomes assessment, which has also been an initiative of the Department of Education in recent years. The survey, for example, asks students to respond to skill statements, providing ratings on how important they think each skill is for a graduate and what exposure they had to the skill as part of their program of study.
In February 2005, the ECFVG will forward specific information regarding the Web-based survey to all accredited-U.S. veterinary schools. Dr. Kochevar urges students and faculty to complete the survey, which should take roughly 40 minutes.
"The value of any degree rests on maintaining a standard," Dr. Kochevar said. "One way to demonstrate that we graduate veterinary students who are competent is to have some outcomes that assess that. We are a self-regulated profession. The onus is on us to us to demonstrate that we educate veterinarians well."
Data from the ECFVG survey may also be shared with interested stakeholders.