Q: Does sponsorship of the COE limit the AVMA’s ability to advocate on behalf of its members?
A: No. The AVMA sponsors the Council on Education (COE), but an effective firewall separates the AVMA from the accreditation process. Antitrust law applies to the AVMA whether it sponsors the COE or not. The AVMA must not engage in anti-competitive activities nor any violations of antitrust laws. What AVMA can do is exactly what it is doing: collecting, analyzing and publishing in-depth information on the economic health of the profession in order to identify, promote, and implement programs and services that protect and enhance the economic well-being of its members. The AVMA in 2015 published information that accurately quantified the amount of excess capacity in the veterinary workforce for the first time. The AVMA Economics Division continues to monitor and report on this baseline, as well as detailed analysis of the factors driving the veterinary economy. Articles on the net present value of the veterinary degree demonstrate the financial challenges associated with major clinical practice areas.
The purpose of academic accreditation in the U.S. is to ensure educational quality. Accrediting agencies are not allowed to use accreditation to manipulate the workforce; the mandate of accreditation is limited to the quality of education. Therefore, no accrediting agency can make accreditation decisions designed to limit the number of schools or graduates, as long as the quality of education is maintained. Such activity would be viewed as anti-competitive.