Veterinarians accredited through the older model of the National Veterinary Accreditation Program can continue to perform duties allowed under that system, even if they haven't signed up for the revised NVAP.
The Department of Agriculture announced in a Sept. 28 Federal Register notice that about 50,000 veterinarians had sent applications to participate in the revised program, but that "logistical obstacles" had prevented department employees from processing those applications in a timely manner. The department expects to process all the applications by March 2011 and, when that is closer to completion, will publish another Federal Register notice with a new date by which veterinarians will have to elect whether to participate in the NVAP.
"Accredited veterinarians provide valuable regulatory services to their communities, allowing agricultural commerce to continue and ensuring that travelers can meet regulatory requirements for pets," the USDA announced. "It is important that those services continue to be provided."
The USDA expects to receive about 10,000 additional applications from veterinarians seeking accreditation under the new program.
The USDA is replacing the lifetime accreditation system with one that requires renewals every three years, continuing education, and tiered accreditation categories. The program will also include specializations for some disease control activities.
The USDA previously announced that veterinarians who did not elect to participate in the revised NVAP by Aug. 2 would lose their accreditation. But the September announcement states that processing of applications for the revised program requires verification, clarification, and proofreading, and sometimes requires contact with state boards, USDA area offices, and the applicants.
"As a result, we have not yet been able to review all of the forms submitted by accredited veterinarians to elect to continue to participate, ensure that the forms accurately reflect the veterinarians' intent and situation, and provide notice to the veterinarians of their first renewal date," the USDA announcement states.
The USDA also indicated more time is needed to contact some veterinarians who routinely perform duties that require accreditation and may not be aware of the changes.
More information on the NVAP is available at www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/vet_accreditation.