June 01, 2010


 COE standards adapted to reflect current realities

Posted May 18, 2010

Three of the 11 AVMA Council on Education Standards of Accreditation were revised at the AVMA Executive Board's April meeting.

The modifications clarify the entries on finances, physical facilities and equipment, and clinical resources in the council's Standard Requirements for an Accredited or Approved College of Veterinary Medicine. Changes in the latter two standards clarify a school's or college's ability to accommodate alternative educational models, such as distributive models of clinical education.

Dr. David E. Granstrom, director of the AVMA Education and Research Division, explained that the council's proposed revisions reflect the reality of veterinary education today.

The council recommended that the board change the COE's standards on physical facilities and equipment to make it clear that schools can use off-campus veterinary teaching hospitals as long as they are formally affiliated with the institution.

Western University of Health Sciences, which received full accreditation from the council at its spring meeting, is an example of such a distributive model of education.

First- and second-year veterinary students at WesternU gain clinical experience at on-campus wellness centers and other area facilities. Third- and fourth-year students complete off-campus rotations, largely at local private practices rather than at an on-campus veterinary teaching hospital.

The board also approved changes to the standard on clinical resources. The standard used to say schools need to plan, supervise, and monitor students' clinical experiences. It now reads that schools must review these clinical experiences and the educational outcomes.

Dr. Granstrom said this means the council will review the school's outcomes and make sure that what's happening at the sites is working, thus putting more emphasis on product over process.

Finally, the board approved revisions to the standard on finances.

Dr. Granstrom explained that a number of veterinary colleges have undergraduate programs embedded in them.

The way the standard was written, schools did not have to distinguish the expenses or income associated with the professional program from those for their other programs.

"Some graduates of the embedded undergraduate programs apply and are admitted to the professional program. Nonetheless, the expenses and revenues generated by these programs are not part of the professional program. Separate reporting allows the council to better evaluate the situation," Dr. Granstrom said.

Changing the standard to make sure schools differentiate the finances of DVM and non-DVM programs helps the council know whether the school can operate sustainably.

In other council recommendations, the board approved initiating an AVMA Bylaws amendment granting voting rights to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges' liaison representative to the COE.

The council had deemed this move appropriate, given the liaison's role on the COE. This individual already fully participates in council activities, functions as a regular member on accreditation site visit teams, and has served as site team chair. The proposed bylaws amendment will be considered by the House of Delegates in July.