The AVMA has appropriated $15,000 to assist the California VMA in defeating proposed regulatory changes by the California Veterinary Medical Board that would bypass the longstanding process by which graduates of foreign veterinary colleges not approved by the AVMA might be certified to sit for licensure examination in California.
The California Veterinary Medical Board has proposed recognizing the Program for Assessing Veterinary Educational Equivalency, recently developed by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, in addition to the AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates program, as a means of assessing the educational qualification of foreign-educated veterinarians wanting to practice in California.
For several decades, most state veterinary licensing boards have accepted ECFVG certification as evidence of an applicant's qualifications.
Last year, with support from the California Veterinary Medical Board, the Oregon-based Banfield, formerly MMI-VetSmart Corporation, backed proposed legislation in the California Assembly that would have made graduates of certain Mexican veterinary colleges eligible for temporary licensure in California without ECFVG certification (see JAVMA, Aug 15, 2000, page 456). The California VMA successfully opposed the bill.
The AVMA had approved $50,000 to help, but the association did not use all the money and returned $32,000.
The regulatory changes proposed by the veterinary board would bypass the legislative process and implement revisions that are much broader than the failed Banfield initiative, because they apply to graduates of veterinary colleges worldwide, according to the California VMA. Given that scale, the association believes the veterinary board should pursue its goal of amending the practice act in the state legislature, rather than using its regulatory discretion.
In a letter to AVMA president, Dr. James E. Nave, dated March 21, California VMA president, Dr. Robert Garcia wrote that the veterinary board is likely to approve the amended regulations. Therefore, the association has retained the lobbying firm it used last year with the intent of appealing the anticipated ruling to the state director of consumer affairs, and, if necessary, Gov Gray Davis.
The association estimates the cost will be approximately $30,000. Considering the potential ramifications to the entire veterinary profession if the regulations were changed, Dr. Garcia asked that the AVMA again assist the association, this time for 50 percent of its expenses. The formal recommendation came from Dr. Joan M. Samuels, who represents District X on the Executive Board, which includes California.
During the Executive Board's deliberations, a recurring concern was that the AVMA would be asked to fund similar initiatives in other states. Also, should the AVMA immediately address attempts to circumvent the ECFVG program, or leave it for the state associations to tackle?
Because the California changes, if successful, could establish a precedent for other states, Dr. Samuels advocated the strong approach. "By not being aggressive, we send a message to other groups looking at doing this," she said.
AVMA treasurer, Dr. James F. Peddie said he was "fiscally concerned" about the potential precedent the AVMA was setting by approving the recommendation, but still advocated its approval, and that future recommendations of a similar nature be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.