COE Accreditation Policies and Procedures: Materials

March 2014 

 

20. Training and Orientation Materials

COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE ACCREDITATION SITE VISIT TEAM

PURPOSE
The purpose of this section is to assist training site team members who conduct site visits to colleges of veterinary medicine for the purpose of program evaluation and accreditation. Detailed information related to the full activities of the AVMA COE, whose charge is to accredit college of veterinary medicine, is found in the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education manual.

The Council has the important responsibility of ensuring that each college complies with the Standards of Accreditation and that each college demonstrates a commitment to educational integrity and improvement.

Accreditation for a college should be an ongoing process for educational integrity and improvement, not an event or episode that occurs once every seven years.

ACCREDITATION
Through action of the AVMA House of Delegates, the COE is charged to provide means and processes for veterinary college accreditation by:

  • Promoting programs in veterinary medical education and encouraging colleges to become fully accredited.
  • Studying and recommending educational methods to improve veterinary medical education.
  • Recommending Standards of Accreditation.
  • Evaluating colleges according to the accepted accreditation standards.
  • Publishing annually a list of the colleges and their accreditation status.

Through the USDE, a governmental recognition body, and the CHEA, a non-profit/non-governmental recognition body, the AVMA is recognized as an official accrediting agency for colleges of veterinary medicine in the US.

In conducting accreditation visits and assigning an accreditation status, the COE focuses only on the professional degree program in colleges of veterinary medicine. Accreditation of a college by the COE is important to the colleges because: it makes available certain federal student loan funds; gives the college an excellent opportunity to conduct a comprehensive self-study and to project program growth or change; provides recognition of a quality program; and assures the public that veterinary medical education in the US is of the quality needed to meet the needs of society. The COE, without review by any other entity of the AVMA, judges the adequacy of the resources and organization of the college to meet its stated purposes, and that the educational outcomes are measured indicating that those purposes are being met on an ongoing basis.

ACCREDITATION PROCESS
ALL DISCUSSIONS, OBSERVATIONS, AND DOCUMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE SITE VISIT AND ACCREDITATION DECISION ARE CONFIDENTIAL TO THE COE. ACCREDITATION INFORMATION CANNOT BE SHARED WITH ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP EXCEPT THE UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE THROUGH THE OFFICIAL REPORT OF EVALUATION.

ACCREDITATION DECISIONS MADE BY THE COE CAN HAVE FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCES FOR THE COLLEGE. CAREFUL AND THOUGHTFUL SITE VISIT ACTIVITIES AND ACCREDITATION DECISION ACTIVITIES MUST REFLECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE PROCESS.

Accreditation of a college of veterinary medicine is based upon compliance with the 11 Standards of Accreditation. These are: organization, finances, physical facilities and equipment, clinical resources, information resources, students, admission, faculty, curriculum, research programs, and outcomes assessment. The standards are dynamic, reflecting the changing educational needs of the veterinary profession, student populations, levels of scientific knowledge, health needs of animals and humans, and expectations of society.

Accreditation of veterinary colleges is voluntary, based upon a request from a college. The process begins when a college requests a site visit and submits a comprehensive self-study based upon COE guidelines. Appointment of site team members is the responsibility of the Chair of the COE Evaluation Committee in consultation with the COE Chair and staff. Site visits are fact-finding missions wherein observations are made, data are gathered, and subjective judgments are made. This summarized information is presented to the full Council for discussion and assignment of an accreditation status. When an accreditation status is assigned, the college is notified of the outcome and the accreditation status for each college is published.

The site visit is an intensive four-day visit to the college used to verify the factual material presented in the self-study, clarify any questions regarding the college and its programs, ensure appropriate learning environments exist, and promote educational improvement.

GETTING STARTED
The first objective is to be familiar with the information pertaining to site visits presented in the AVMA COE manual by paying particular attention to the content and meaning of the 11 Standards.

Approximately six weeks before the scheduled site visit, each site team member will receive a self-study and supporting documentation directly from the college. These documents serve as a basis for the site visit. Each site team member must carefully read and study the materials received so that he/she will have a thorough understanding of the mission, structure, programs, curriculum, operation, and student learning outcomes of the college. It is important for each site team member to gain an overall understanding of the college before the site visit begins. It may be helpful to write questions regarding any specific area that is not fully understood. Approximately two weeks before the scheduled visit, each site team member will receive a site team evaluation rubric, a list of questions from the COE reviewers, the previous report of evaluation and subsequent interim reports from the AVMA Education and Research Division. Each site team member is responsible for developing an in-depth knowledge of the college and is responsible for assisting the team in expanding the group's collective knowledge base through observations, questions, and interpretations.

THE SITE VISIT
At no time during the site visit will a member of the site team make any evaluative or prescriptive comments regarding the "state of the college" or the findings of the site team. Comments will be made to college and university officials at the appropriate time.

For a typical site visit schedule, please refer to the COE manual (Section 13). On site, each site team member must be satisfied that compliance with all standards is thoroughly investigated and discussed and that results (deficiencies) are recorded. The chairperson of the site visit team will provide special assignments to team members regarding one or more of the standards. Each member should pay special attention to these standards since he/she will be asked to write the team's comments for the evaluation report. However, each team member is responsible for all standards. The evaluation should take into account that program diversity exists in colleges; the Council encourages diversity and educational innovation. The site team will not compare programs with other veterinary colleges. Each team member must judge only the college being visited in the context of its mission and educational objectives as presented in the self-study.

From the typical schedule, one will see that the site team tours facilities and meets with: administrators (both college and university); faculty (teaching, research, service); professional and graduate students; interns and residents; departmental service (hospital, special program, etc.) representatives; specialized committees (research, curriculum, etc.); library and learning resources personnel; and faculty and students interested in confidential discussion. From these observations and discussions, and comparing these findings with the standards, the college mission, and self-study, the team forms evaluation judgments to be reported to the COE.

During the tour of facilities each site team member should ask questions of college personnel regarding program and function; observe and make notes regarding specific areas, functions, and the adequacy of the facilities to meet the educational needs of the program. Remember that the facilities and equipment must meet the stated purposes of the program. It is not appropriate for individual team members to wander about by themselves or to separate themselves from the team because of interests in other areas or engage in social visits with faculty or staff. All members must be present during the entire tour.

On-Site Inspection of Distributive Models

The following set of guidelines should be used as supplementary information for site team chairs conducting visits to schools in which clinical education is accomplished in distributive sites.
  • Sites which are considered "core" educational sites (as defined in Section 8) must be visited by the site team or representatives of the team.
  • A minimum of two site team members of the site team (may include AVMA staff) must visit each site.
  • At each distributive site, personnel who supervises and evaluates the veterinary students must be present to interact with the site team representatives.
  • Each site must be toured in a manner analogous to that used to evaluate on-campus teaching hospitals.
  • Evaluation of each site must be documented, in a written manner, on a standardized evaluation survey that may be tailored to the specific educational program but must be based specifically on all pertinent COE standards (see Section 21.6, Appendix F).

At the beginning of each discussion-based meeting, the chair of the team will make introductions and explain the purpose of the visit so that all in attendance will understand the process being undertaken and the desired outcome. All team members are expected to enter into discussions by asking good questions, but are not to become a discussant except for clarification of unclear points. Each site team member is to be a good listener, and record observations, and plan on being present during all discussions as appropriate to the schedule.

Questions asked and discussed during these sessions should be focused by the site team to gain additional information and insight about the programs of the college. Issues not related to the standards, and ultimately the outcome of the accreditation visit should not be discussed. A careful leader (and the team) will continually focus and refine the discussion to enhance understanding of the program. If discussion wanders, the team becomes less effective.

Each evening the site team members and AVMA staff will meet in executive session to further refine understanding of the programs and to revise the evaluation report. Be prepared for late night sessions, keeping in mind that your input is highly valued.

STANDARD INTERPRETATION
Based upon individual knowledge, professional interests, and capabilities of each team member, the individuals and the collective site team are expected to make judgments regarding compliance with the standards at each college. The team judges compliancefor with each of the Standards of Accreditation. Compliance with some of the standards can be verified with data provided by the college. Others will be judged through more subjective means using professional judgment. The Council relies on the experience of the team members to make judgments based on their expertise with the application of reason and reality. The most important items dealt with are the college's ability to provide the educational program within the context of its mission, current resources, and societal needs; and the sustainability of the educational program.

The site visit is a point-in-time observation ("still photograph") of a dynamic process representing current conditions in the college. Be careful not to evaluate plans, unfinished renovations or structures, projected equipment purchases, desired program changes, and other non-existing "dreams." These items can be noted, but should not be used to make your assessments of compliance. This understanding should not eliminate entrepreneurial efforts that might improve the quality of education, research, or service to the profession, but must be evaluated based upon the mission of the college, the resources available, and the projected student learning outcomes.

Special emphasis is placed upon gathering information and data related to student learning outcomes. A college must have an ongoing process to collect, summarize, and analyze student learning outcome data and must use the findings to improve student education. Examples of how student outcomes were used to improve educational quality of the program should be discussed with the college administration.

EVALUATING THE PROGRAM BASED ON THE ELEVEN STANDARDS
The standards describe the necessary requirements for accreditation. Specific items mentioned in the standard must be present in the team's findings or the standard is not met. As an example, under the standard for Physical Facilities and Equipment, the last paragraph states "Facilities for the housing of animals used for teaching and research shall be sufficient in number, properly constructed, and maintained in a manner consistent with accepted animal welfare standards." Team members must subjectively ascertain whether or not a college's isolation facilities are appropriate and sufficient for clinical and research animals (see Section 21.7, Appendix G). Obviously, no two colleges are the same, yet they may all meet the standard in a variety of ways.

It is important also to note that if a college fails to comply with a specific part of the standard then the entire standard has been compromised. However, there are many gray areas where generalizations, not specifics, are the norm. In these areas, the team members must look for compliance. As an example, under the standard Information Resources, it is stated that "The college shall have access to the human, digital, and physical resources for retrieval of relevant veterinary and supporting literature and necessary for development of instructional materials." Just exactly what constitutes human resources adequate for retrieval of relevant veterinary and supporting literature and necessary for development of instructional materials? This remains for the site team to determine. It is possible for a marginally qualified librarian to be doing a world-class job in running the library. What we are looking for is compliance. The site team needs to continuously ask two questions. First, does the present finding comply with the standard? Second, is the mission of the college being accomplished? Make sure enough information is provided to make a judgment decision on compliance with the standard as a whole and in a manner defendable before the full Council.

A video illustrating interpretation of the 11 Standards of Accreditation should have been viewed. This video was made during the fall COE meeting wherein two hours are devoted to training (retraining) all COE members regarding the site visit and the interpretation of the standards. The chair of the site team and AVMA staff member will answer questions that may arise.

CONCLUDING THE VISIT
As the days pass, site team members will develop a clear sense of the college's ability to comply with the standards and its ability to sustain the program within the resources identified. Many of your thoughts will be condensed and entered into the draft of the evaluation report executive sessions of the site team. During the last team executive sessions, the chair will begin to formulate directives and recommendations to be verbally presented to the dean of the college (and his/her designated group) and the president of the university (and his/her designated group). It is important that there is site team consensus with these recommendations. At these two final meetings the site team chair will verbally present the finding of the team. Other team members should not speak until the report is complete, or unless the chair, dean, or president asks for additional information wherein a team member might make a substantial contribution. No written report will be given to the college or university at this time.

WRITING THE REPORT OF EVALUATION
The final draft of the report of evaluation prepared by the site team should be concise, accurate, and defensible through written (self-study or addendums) or observed (site visit verification) evidence. Information in the report of evaluation draft must be understandable to the COE members and to the administration of the college and the university. Clarity is an absolute requirement.

Each site team member is assigned one or more standards as lead writer. Each element of the standard and material required in the self-study should be addressed in the draft. (Remember that the college must comply with the elements of the standard and provide the information/evidence requested in the outline for the self-study report.

There are five major elements to each draft of the report of evaluation. 1) the compliance scoring rubric that lists each component/requirement of every standard. 2) Commentary: this section describes the factual findings of the site team, positive or negative, and provides context for any subsequent directives made to correct specific deficiencies. Specific facts and/or figures can be presented in the commentary to describe the factual finding of the site team or included as addenda. Each part of the standard must be addressed at the end of the section for each standard. 3) Commendations: this section is reserved for commending the college for quality endavors. 4) Directives: This section is used to report the compliance of a college with each standard and to provide directives to correct each deficiency. 5) Recommendations: This section contains suggestions intended to assist the colleg in improving its educatinal program and carry no adverse consequences.

The site team should strive to reach consensus on the strengths, directives, and recommendations for each college.

Following the site visit, the chair of the site team, assisted by the AVMA staff, will modify the draft report of evaluation to ensure that all standards have been addressed adequately, paying particular attention to ensure that statements made in the recommendations directives are matched with supporting narrative in the commentary of the draft. This draft is sent to site team members for their final input and the chair will make the necessary revisions. The approved draft is included in the agenda of the COE for its next meeting wherein the Council will assign accreditation status based upon the evidence provided in the draft evaluation report. The Council may make changes in the draft presented and a final report of evaluation will be prepared and mailed to the college dean and university president. The report or any part thereof is confidential and will not be made public except by the actions of the dean or president.

ACCREDITATION DECISIONS
The self-study and supporting documentation furnished by the college, the draft report of evaluation, the dean's response to the report, and any other appropriate information from other sources to determine whether the college complies with the standards are made available to the Council prior to the COE meeting. Council members read and review draft reports of evaluation (provided in the COE meeting agenda distributed online prior to the meeting) for each college being considered for accreditation and come to the meetings prepared to discuss the findings of the site team and/or seek additional information necessary to evaluate that college.

Two COE members are assigned as primary and secondary reviewers to conduct a pre-site visit review of the self-study and post site visit review of the report of evaluation. The COE reviewers evaluate the self-study to identify and communicate concerns regarding compliance with each standard to the site team chair three weeks prior to the site visit. The reviewers also discuss the report of evaluation with the site team chair folloing the site visit to clarify any areas of concern. The COE reviewers may request clarifying information from the site team chair or ask COE staff to gather additional evidence from the college, as needed to facilitate review by the full Council. The primary COE reviewer presents an accurate summary of the draft report of evaluation, leads discussion, and provides the directives and recommendations of the site team for each Standard. Each Standard is presented and discussed separately, followed by a recommendation from the COE reviewer regarding the college's compliance with that Standard. COE members then vote on that recommendation. After compliance with all Standards has been approved/disapproved, an individual voting in the majority regarding a specific Standard may propose a motion for reconsideration of that Standard based on substantive reason(s). The Council may reconsider that Standard with additional discussion and confirm its decision or, with supporting evidence, reverse its decision. When Standard 11, Outcomes Assessment, is considered, the Council votes to approve or disapprove the college's performance in advancing student achievement.

At the conclusion of review of all the Standards and upon recommendation of the COE reviewer, the accreditation status and the assigned length of time for that status is determined by a vote of the Council, unless the Council notes deficiencies which may result in an adverse action. If major or minor deficiencies with a Standard(s) are noted, the Council proposes a remedy for each deficiency. Notation is made in the Recommendation section of the final report of evaluation when specific deficiencies are not identified, but the Council wishes to provide suggestions for improvement for the educational program.

When the Council notes deficiencies which may result in an adverse accreditation action, it will defer the accreditation decision, give written notice to the college of each deficiency and recommendation, and provide the college with an opportunity to respond in writing pursuant to Section 10.6. The college's response must only include documentation, data, or other information relevant to the deficiencies identified by the Council that may result in an adverse accreditation action. The college must notify the Council of its intent to respond within fifteen (15) days after receipt of the draft report of evaluation and file its response with the Council within thirty (30) days after receipt of the draft report of evaluation. An adverse accreditation action is defined as withholding initial or renewed accreditation, denial of a reasonable assurance status, or assignment of terminal accreditation.

If the Council notes deficiencies regarding Standard 2, Finances that may result in an adverse accreditation action, the college may submit new financial information only if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. The financial information was unavailable to the college until after the Council made the adverse findings regarding the college's finances; and
  2. The financial information is significant and bears materially on the financial deficiencies identified by the Council, i.e., the information is of such a nature that if found to be credible it could result in the finding that Standard 2, Finances is now met; and
  3. The only remaining deficiency cited by the Council is the college's failure to meet Standard 2, Finances.

An affected college may seek the review of new financial information as described in this section only once per accreditation cycle and any determination by the Council made with respect to that review does not provide a basis for an appeal.

The Council will consider the written response and documentation sent by the college within 30 days of receipt. The Council reserves the right to conduct a focused site visit, as needed, to validate information submitted for reconsideration. Should a letter of reasonable assurance be denied, or another adverse accreditation action taken for a specific college, the college is notified in writing of the reasons for the action and reminded of the appeal process. Within 30 days after action of the Council, staff prepares a letter for the dean of the college and the president of the parent institution that accompanies the report of evaluation conveying the accreditation status, length of time a given status is assigned, and any special instructions. A formal statement of classification or reasonable assurance decision, signed by the Chair of the Council, accompanies the letter and the report.

After the opportunities to respond in writing or appeal have passed or the processes completed, the action of the Council is considered final and a final report of evaluation is prepared, including recommendations and a classification of accreditation or reasonable assurance. Copies of the final report are sent to the dean of the college, the chief executive officer of the institution, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. The officials of the college and the institution are authorized to disseminate all or part of the content of the report at their discretion. Should an institution choose to make public disclosure, it must disclose its accreditation status accurately, including the specific academic program covered by that status, and specify that the AVMA-COE, the accrediting agency, is located at 1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL (847-925-8070). Any incorrect or misleading information regarding preaccreditation or accreditation released by the institution will be corrected by the COE. These corrections include, but are not limited to 1) the accreditation or preaccreditation status, 2) content of reports of on-site visits, and 3) the accreditation or preaccreditation action by the COE with respect to the program. The content of the report is not available from AVMA, CVMA, Council members, or the site visit team. Except under the conditions cited above, all findings, the self-study, correspondence, recommendations, and related information and documentation of the site visit and the evaluation are confidential to the Council and will not be publicly disclosed.

The AVMA publishes the final accreditation or reasonable assurance classification of the college and the dates of the last and next evaluation of the college. All requests for details of the report are referred to the dean or the university president.

Objective of Site Visit

The objective of a site visit is to verify and supplement information presented in the self-study report. Site visits are made only with the concurrence of the administration of the college and its parent institution. When it appears in the best interest of the college, the university concerned, the AVMA, or another accrediting agency, every effort is made to coordinate and cooperate with other accrediting agencies in request for information and conduct of visits.

Site Visit Overview

The agenda for the visit is established by the chair of the site visit team in consultation with the college administration.

Site visit teams are fact-finding bodies, usually composed of seven members, including AVMA staff. Using the college self-study as the basis for evaluation, a four-day site visit is conducted. Input is sought from all program factions of the college including faculty, students, staff, and alumni. Facilities, programs, and other pertinent areas are also studied. A factual report of the current status of the college is produced using a standardized site visit rubric to ensure thorough and consistent application of the standards by each site team. The report is reviewed by all team members for factual correctness.

During the site visit the team audits the college educational program by consulting with the dean and appropriate staff, department heads, representative faculty members, the librarian, representative students at both professional and graduate levels including interns and residents, and appropriate faculty committees. In addition, the team tours the buildings, facilities, equipment, and views case records. The site visit team holds a series of executive sessions to compare notes on its findings, begin formulation of its report, and instruct the chair as to the points to be addressed and directives and recommendations made in the draft report of evaluation. Each member drafts directives concerning deficiencies in meeting the standard requirements for which he/she has been assigned responsibility. All recommendations are based on discussion noted in the body of the report. Directives are stated as specifically as possible to identify the deficiency involved and suggest possible solutions, without dictating the specific method for achieving the necessary outcome. The entire team discusses and approves all directives and recommendations which become part of the report. The site team also may add recommendations when a standard is in compliance, but an opportunity to make suggestions for improvement has been identified. If there is disagreement within a team concerning a directive or recommendation, the recommendation remains in the report; the disagreement is called to the attention of the Council when the report is presented.

The final report of evaluation will inform the college of the Council's assessment of student achievement.

Code of Conduct for Site Team Members

Site team members are required to conduct themselves professionally, courteously, and with the utmost respect for faculty, students, and other representatives of the college educational program visited as well as fellow site visit team members.

 

Site team members must:

  • Remember that the objectives of accreditation include verifying that an institution or program meets established standards, assisting prospective students in identifying acceptable institutions, creating goals for self-improvement of weaker programs and stimulating a general raising of standards among educational institutions, and involving the faculty and appropriate staff comprehensively in institutional evaluation and planning;
  • Keep a positive attitude and not offer negative feedback or other criticism during the site visit;
  • Remember that all materials, discussions, deliberations, and reports of the site visit are confidential;
  • Refrain from discussing the "state of a college" with anyone other than site team members and appropriate AVMA staff;
  • Remain open-minded throughout the evaluation process;
  • Carefully study the materials contained in the college self-study to acquire a basic understanding of the college and its operation;
  • Be prepared for four and a half days of intense work with long evenings;
  • Participate in the discussions, both with college administration and personnel, and in the team deliberations;
  • Focus on and uphold the Standards of Accreditation;
  • Be alert at all times using all senses;
  • Be on time for all functions;
  • Be involved in all functions of the site visit;
  • Dress in corporate/professional attire for all site visit activities (men are asked to wear suits or coats and ties, and women are asked to wear suits or dresses); and
  • Wear AVMA-COE identification badges at all times.

Site team members must not:

  • Bring any preconceived ideas about the college to the site visit;
  • Have a personal agenda regarding the college, its programs, or people;
  • Become separated from the team for any reason unless so assigned by the site team chair;
  • Become involved in a confrontation involving any issue of the visit;
  • Compare colleges or programs, since each college and its program will be unique and the Council is not attempting to diminish diversity among programs or to hinder or impede innovation;
  • Offer judgments on solutions to problems during the course of the visit; these activities are to be reserved for the exit interviews with the college dean and university president;
  • Tell "war stories".

Remember at all times, the site team is a guest of the college and is there to assist the college in meeting its mission and goals. The accreditation process is only as good as the site team members and the COE.

Site Team Modus Operandi

It is important that the college recognize that comments made during the site visit about the status of the program with respect to a specific standard are in no way a final determination. During the exit interview, the chair of the site visit team should emphasize that the comments made represent the majority view of the site visit team and will be considered as a directive or recommendation by the full Council on Education. The final decision on the status of each standard and the accreditation status rests solely with the full COE.

The lunch period indicated on the third day may be used for meeting with any group such as the state veterinary medical association or major committees not scheduled elsewhere.

Meetings with students are scheduled for each site visit. The scheduled meeting with professional students should involve two or three representatives of each class, selected by their peers. The meeting with graduate students should include one or more representatives from each appropriate department.

The meeting with faculty representatives should involve one faculty member from each department or administrative unit. These should be individuals, other than department heads (administration), chosen as spokespersons by the faculty of that department. The representatives meet as a group with the visiting team.

The site team will be available for a one-hour period to meet with students and faculty for confidential interviews, conducted in ten-minute increments. The dean's office is responsible for announcing the time for such interviews, noting the location in an area remote from administrative offices. Interviews are conducted on a first-come, first-served basis until the time period has elapsed.

At colleges with very large departments, conferences with department heads often include heads of major sections.

The dean or the dean's representative is welcome to participate in any of the meetings except those with students and faculty representatives. The university administration may invite the dean to participate.

Each evening during the site visit the team meets and reviews the day's activities. The draft report of evaluation is updated and revised in light of new information gained during the day. All members of the team attend the evening meetings. On the last evening of the visit, development of the draft report is completed and directives and recommendations agreed upon. Each directive must be based on a deficiency described in the commentary under the appropriate sections of the affected standard(s). The team votes on a classification of accreditation to be recommended to the Council.

At the conclusion of the site visit the team holds exit interviews with the dean of the college, and with the chief executive officer of the institution to review its findings. The exit interview with the dean and college administrators of the dean's choosing, completes the site visitation of the college and precedes the exit interview with university administration. The exit interview is a critical part of the site visit; therefore, all site team members will attend. The exit interview with university administration normally involves the president of the institution and such other administrative officers as the president may choose. In the absence of the president, the team meets with his duly authorized representative. The dean is usually not present at the interview with the chief executive officer. The chair of the team is responsible for developing remarks for the exit interview. The team assists in preparing the outline for these remarks, and each member comments on items concerning the sections of the report drafted by the respective member.

A member of the AVMA Executive Board, dean of an AVMA COE-accredited veterinary medical college, or other individuals approved by the Council may accompany the site visit team as an observer.

There is no place in accreditation for adversarial relationships. The college and the COE site team should proceed with the premise that both parties are dedicated to the common goal of quality in veterinary education. Only through full and open communication and cooperative efforts to correct deficiencies can educational excellence be attained.

Interactions between the COE site team and the colleges should have a collegial tone, and be based on mutual trust and a desire to arrive at a full understanding of the current status of the educational program of the college. The dean and other administrative officers should be knowledgeable in the definitions of the various levels of accreditation status and the impact of the failure to meet one or more of the standards.

Guidelines for Site Team Visitors to Foreign Veterinary Colleges

Site team members and AVMA staff are the guests of the host foreign veterinary college. Cultures and customs may differ from those in the US and Canada.

Regarding travel, the host institution is responsible for all expenses. However, the COE has established limitations to enable each site team member to understand the process and avoid misunderstandings. The following guidelines should be followed.

Travel
Air transportation is in business class. Should you choose to use first-class, the additional charges will be the responsibility of the site team member and will not be paid by the host institution. The host institution is responsible for ground transportation to move the site team during the visit.

Lodging
The host institution is responsible for arranging lodging for the site visit. There may be those who want to combine the site visit with personal vacation or business, which is permissible. However, lodging charged to the host institution will be limited to the following:

  • For those traveling only for the site visit, two nights of lodging before the site visit are permitted to allow for adjustment to time zone changes. At the end of the site visit (general mid-week at mid-day) air flights may not be available for immediate or convenient departure. In that case, one additional night is permitted. Please use good judgment in choosing the proper options.
  • Extenuating circumstances may arise (weather, aircraft maintenance, etc.) which might delay departure on any leg of the flight. The host college is responsible for the cost of lodging during these rare occurrences. Charges resulting from injury or illness of the site team member causing delay in departure are the responsibility of the team member.
  • The host institution is not responsible for charges associated with spouses, significant others, or dependents of a site team member.

Meals and Miscellany
The host institution is responsible for all meals and other related incidentals for the team during the site visit, with the same time limitations as lodging.

Telephone Calls
Telephone calls made by site team members for family or business reasons are not paid by the host institution. Calls, if made, are billed directly to the site team member. Use careful judgment related to any other charges.

Gifts
In many countries where special guests are being hosted, it is customary to provide or be provided with gifts. It is AVMA policy that official gifts will not be presented to the host institution. If a host institution wishes to provide a small gift to each participant, acceptance is allowed. However, gifts offered to individuals (and not to all members of the site team) must be refused. It is the desire of the AVMA that no gifts be presented; however, it is not the intent to disregard customs of a given society. It is permissible for site team members (as individuals or as a group) to provide a gratuity for some special services (chauffeur, hotel employees, etc.), but this voluntary gesture should not be charged to the host institution.