Effective May 1, board certification by a specialty organization recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties will be considered as having satisfied the fourth and final requirement of the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates program.
Most state licensing boards require graduates of foreign veterinary colleges not approved by the AVMA Council on Education to complete the requirements of the ECFVG program to be eligible to sit for licensure. The fourth part of the ECFVG program tests a candidate's clinical proficiency. Candidates have had the choice of either taking a four-day examination or completing a year of evaluated clinical experience at an AVMA-accredited or -approved college.
Foreign-educated veterinarians who have met the "stringent" demands for board certification in a field of veterinary medicine recognized by the ABVS have demonstrated their competence in this final stage of the program, Dr. Joan M. Samuels, AVMA Executive Board representative to the ECFVG, said.
"We felt that they had more than satisfied the requirements of step four," Dr. Samuels said about the seven-member commission's recommendation to the Council on Education, which was approved in early March. The ECFVG operates in an advisory role to the council.
The most likely beneficiaries are a small but undetermined number of veterinarians in academia who want to be licensed to practice in this country. A license is not a requirement to teach veterinary medicine in most veterinary colleges. (Some veterinary teaching hospitals do require an institutional license, however. State boards licensing these institutions can provide the licenses.) But until the council action, board certified foreign graduates who wanted to sit for licensure, like all other candidates in the ECFVG program, had to first successfully complete all four steps.
ECFVG chair, Dr. Wallace B. Baze explained that the motivation for the commission's recommendation was letters the commission had received from some foreign graduates who were diplomates, requesting an alternative to the final phase of the program.
Considering that "many of these people are currently teaching our veterinary students," the exception made sense, Dr. Baze said. He hopes foreign graduates who are board eligible and become board certified will now consider becoming licensed.
Another consideration was that the commission did not want to be seen as creating artificial barriers for qualified veterinarians to practice in this country—a charge leveled by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards and some foreign graduates.
The commission has been criticized for its administration of the fourth step of the program; specifically, that there is a backlog of candidates waiting to take the Clinical Proficiency Examination, offered several times annually at three veterinary colleges for a fee of $6,000, which some say is too expensive.
There is now no waiting period for candidates to take the proficiency examination; for example, openings are available in September 2001. Of the examination cost, $5,000 covers the costs of the school administering the examination; the remainder is used to ensure that the examinations are administered fairly at each of the testing sites.
Furthermore, two additional institutions and one private provider have expressed an interest in hosting the examination, and the AVMA is in negotiations with an independent firm to manage quality assurance for the examination.