With the approval of the AVMA Executive Board, the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates program has added a new procedure to handle certain complaints and will be distributing a request for proposals for development of a new examination to be used in step three of the certification program.
The new procedure will serve as a mechanism for handling complaints made by third-party individuals, candidates, or examination sites. Previously, the program only had an appeals process whereby a candidate or test site could appeal an adverse decision by the commission.
An even larger change is in the works, with the ECFVG taking the first of many steps to replace the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination to assess basic and clinical veterinary science knowledge for step three of the ECFVG certification program. The other steps of the program involve proof of graduation from a veterinary school or college, fluency in English, and assessment of hands-on clinical skills.
In the late 1980s, the ECFVG used the national veterinary licensing examination for step three; it comprised the National Board Examination and the Clinical Competency Test. In the late 1990s, the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, which owned and administered the NBE and CCT, told the AVMA that it would be replacing those examinations with a new computer-based examination: the NAVLE.
The ECFVG anticipated that the test would be an appropriate tool to use for step three. Since its first administration in 2000, however, the NBVME has said that the NAVLE is not an assessment of basic veterinary sciences knowledge, and is purely a licensing examination. In addition, some veterinarians have been wary about using a licensing examination in an educational equivalency certification process.
For these reasons, the ECFVG hired the Chauncey Group International to formulate a cost and feasibility estimate for developing and maintaining a new examination. Partly on the basis of this group's study, the ECFVG first considered using the NBVME qualifying examination. The commission concluded, however, that this examination isn't an appropriate replacement because it does not assess clinical sciences knowledge, only basic veterinary science knowledge.
In lieu of this, the ECFVG has created a set of requirements that a replacement test should meet and is distributing an RFP to a number of entities.
The ECFVG expects that developing a new examination will cost between $125,000 and $250,000; this money will need to come from the AVMA. "The AVMA will own the examination and will contract with a vendor to administer it," Dr. Sabin explained. The ECFVG anticipates that it will be able to set the examination fee structure at an affordable level for the candidates, while recovering some development costs and allowing ongoing maintenance of the new examination.
The ECFVG is in the process of accepting proposals. An ECFVG subcommittee will serve as the review panel and will then forward a recommendation regarding a potential vendor to the AVMA Executive Board.