Veterinary Technician Education and the CVTEA: FAQ

Applying for accreditation | Accreditation process | Site visits | Standards of accreditation | IACUC issues


Use the topic links above or below for answers to frequently asked questions on the CVTEA accreditation process.

Applying for accreditation

When should we apply for accreditation?

What expenses can be anticipated for accreditation?

How long will it take to prepare the self-study report?

When is the self-study report due?

How should we submit the self-study report?

Accreditation Process

What level of accreditation is available?

What assurances can we give students in initial classes that accreditation will be granted?

If accreditation is granted, how long is it good for?

Are programs at provisional, probational, or terminal accreditation accredited?

Site Visits

How long is a site visit?

How is a site team formed?

Are site team members paid?

What happens after the site visit?

Tips for a smooth site visit

Standards of Accreditation

What is the Committee looking for on evaluation of essential skills? How are essential skills evaluated?

Can we fulfill our full-time equivalent veterinarian or veterinary technician with more than one person?

Can we hire an individual who is not a veterinarian or a veterinary technician to teach program courses?

What is an "FTE"?

IACUC Issues

What are the primary duties of an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)?

Are all programs required to be registered with the USDA?

What animals are to be included for review by the IACUC and in animal use protocols?

What are the minimum standards for an IACUC?

How frequently should an IACUC meet?

What constitutes a quorum for IACUC purposes?

What is recommended with regard to minutes and reports of an IACUC?

What are some guidelines for animal care and use protocols?

 


 Applying for accreditation 

 

Q:  When should we apply for accreditation?

A:  Programs are strongly encouraged to first contact the AVMA office to discuss the current status of the program. Evaluative site visits for new programs are generally conducted when the initial class has completed approximately 2/3 of the curriculum. Because site visits are scheduled more than one year in advance, programs are encouraged to apply for accreditation as soon as possible. 

QWhat expenses can be anticipated for accreditation?

A:  Programs are responsible for all costs of site team members associated with the site visit including, but not limited to, hotel expenses, airfare or mileage, meals, and rental car (if needed). Since the program is responsible for arranging the hotel and meal arrangements, costs vary from each site visit. During the evaluation site visit, AVMA staff will initially take care of the expenses for the team. Because of this, it is important that lodging and food arrangements are made with institutions that accept Mastercard credit cards. Eventually, all site visit travel, meals, lodging and associated expenses will be billed to the College. In addition, new programs are assessed a $3,000 application fee which is due along with the application form . This fee is above logistics costs mentioned above. Once all expenses have been collected following the site visit, an invoice is sent to the Program. Accredited programs are also assessed a $600 annual fee for subsequent years.

Q:  How long will it take to prepare the self-study report?

A:  Most programs report that preparing the self-study report consumed more than 100 clockable hours.

Q:  When is the self-study report due?

A:  Self-study reports for new programs are due 8 weeks prior to the site visit. Reports for reaccreditation site visits are due 6 weeks prior to the site visit. Because the self-study report deadline is based on the site visit date, please contact the AVMA office as soon as possible to secure a date.

Q:  How should we submit the self-study report?

A:  All Self-Study Reports should be:

  1. Concise, yet complete. Please be judicious in the amount of material included in the report. (i.e.: CV's of faculty should be brief; feedback questionnaires should be summarized, faculty personnel policies should be brief). If you are unsure as to whether or not to include something, please call AVMA staff.
  2. Single-sided, double-spaced.
  3. Page numbered (including appendices).
  4. Sectioned by Standard, with each section and appendix separated by a tab. Tabs should be numbered by the Standard.
  5. Spiral bound (GBC) with a soft cover. Please, no three-ring binders unless spiral binding is economically not feasible.
 

Accreditation process

 

Q:  What level of accreditation is available?

A:  For program applying for accreditation for the first time, a site visit is usually conducted before the first class has graduates. The classification of accreditation available to programs that have not produced graduates is provisional accreditation. Graduates of a provisionally accredited program are considered graduates of an AVMA CVTEA-accredited program and therefore eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Programs that already have graduates may be eligible for full accreditation following the initial site visit.

Q:  What assurances can we give students in initial classes that accreditation will be granted?

A:  Unfortunately, no assurance can be granted, and students must be clearly notified that although accreditation has been applied for, that does not assure accreditation.

Q: If accreditation is granted, how long is it good for?

A:  New programs are granted provisional for a period not to exceed five years. The evaluation process is repeated at five year intervals until a program has been fully accredited for two cycles, after which time site visits are conducted at six-year intervals. Once the Committee grants a favorable accreditation decree, the effective date is retroactive to the date of the last day of your site visit. The Committee reserves the right to change an accreditation status based on annual, biennial, or interim reports.

Q:  Are programs at provisional, probationary, or terminal accreditation accredited?

A:  Yes, provisional, probationary, and terminal accreditation arenot punitive status. Provisional accreditation is granted to programs in their first initial five years of accreditation. Programs on probationary accreditation are considered accredited. Graduates of provisional, probationary, or terminal accredited programs are considered to be graduates of an AVMA CVTEA accredited program and therefore should be eligible for licensure.

 

Site visits

 

Q:  How long is a site visit?

A:  Site visits are three days in duration and occur on either a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday or Wednesday/Thursday/Friday schedule. Students must be in session during the site visit and administrative personnel must be available. Please see the sample site visit agenda for start and end times. Site visits schedules are flexible and can be adjusted to allow for particular program needs; however, the AVMA office must approve agenda changes.

Q:  How is a site team formed?

A:  The evaluation team consists of five members:

  • a Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) member, who serves as chair of the team;
  • a state veterinary medical association representative who is a veterinarian;
  • a veterinary technician representative;
  • a public representative;
  • and an AVMA staff member.

Program personnel are responsible for securing the public and veterinary technician representatives. The public member may not be associated with the College, may not be a veterinarian or veterinary technician, or serve on the Program's advisory committee.

The veterinary technician member must be a graduate of an AVMA-accredited veterinary technology program and should be chosen by the state technician association, if at all possible. Only one individual needs to be identified. It is preferable that the veterinary technician member not be a graduate of the program; however, the CVTEA recognizes that graduates of other accredited programs may not be available and will accept graduates of the program being evaluated. The technician cannot be a member of the Program's advisory committee.

Site team members should be identified by the time the self-study report is due. No stipend is provided to site team members.

Q:  Are site team members paid?

A:  No. This is considered a volunteer position. Volunteers are reimbursed for logistical costs associated with the site visit.

Q:  What happens after the site visit?

A:  After the site visit, the site team drafts a Report of Evaluation (ROE) based on their findings. Included in this report are recommendations for program improvement. A draft ROE is sent to the program director for an opportunity to review and comment on the content of the report. Following review by the program, the ROE is reviewed by the entire CVTEA during one of the biannual meetings. The full Committee deliberates on the recommendations and an accreditation decision is made. After the accreditation decision is made by CVTEA, the program is notified of the accreditation decision and is sent a final ROE containing recommendations.

Q: Can you provide tips for a smooth site visit?

A:  See Tips for a Smooth Site Visit.

 

Standards of accreditation

 

Q:  What is the Committee looking for on evaluation of essential skills? How are essential skills evaluated?

A:  The CVTEA is looking for assurance that programs have a systematic, or step-by-step, way of evaluating student acquisition of tasks and that all faculty grading those procedures are using the same criteria. The intent is to develop a system for grading tasks that cannot be done by traditional examinations. Often, these assessments are already being done on an intuitive level, based on what the process and outcomes should be. The CVTEA requires programs to have criteria in place to ensure that all students are being evaluated consistently.

For example; criteria that may go into a cephalic catheter placement includes: selection of the appropriate catheter, selection of the appropriate leg, preparation of the injection site, holding off of the vein, introduction of the catheter, getting blood, securing the catheter. Some programs assess points for each step and then use totals for grading. Further, Programs will need to keep track of each student's progress in completing each essential skill. A variety of methods have been utilized including checklists, spreadsheets, or binders. Programs are encouraged to use their creativity in organizing this material.

Please note, the above are simply examples and not meant to be de facto. An extensive list of criteria is available at the Purdue University website at Purdue Essential Skills. In addition, the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators (www.avte.net) provides a network of information as well.

Q:  Can we fulfill our full-time equivalent veterinarian or veterinary technician with more than one person?

A:  The CVTEA allows institutions to define "full-time equivalent"; therefore, programs have the flexibility of hiring more than one person to meet the full-time equivalent criteria.

Q:  Can we hire an individual who is not a veterinarian or a veterinary technician to teach program courses?

A:  Programs are allowed to hire non-veterinary faculty provided that the individual is qualified to teach the subject matter and that no violations are made against state veterinary practice act. Further, programs should check for any specific criteria with their institutional accreditor.

Q:  What is an "FTE"?

A:  FTE stands for "full-time equivalent". Determining what constitutes an FTE varies from institution to institution. Some colleges determine FTE by clock hours or contact hours per week or per month. The CVTEA accepts the method used by the institution for determining an FTE; however, some institutional accrediting agencies may have requirements on how to determine FTE.

 

IACUC issues

 

Q:  What are the primary duties of an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)?

A:  The primary duties on an animal care and use committee include:

  1. Review Animal Care and Use Program and inspect facilities at least once every 6 months and report to Institutional Official.
  2. Review, and, if warranted, investigate concerns involving the care and use of animals at the research facilities resulting from public complaints – "whistleblower policy".
  3. Approve protocols ("Review and approve, require modifications in (to secure approval), or withhold approval of proposed activities related to the care and use of animals" – AWA regulations)
  4. Approve amendments to protocols ("Review and approve, require modifications in (to secure approval), or withhold approval of proposed significant changes regarding use of animals in ongoing activities" – AWA regulations)
  5. Suspend an activity involving animals (for cause).

Q:  Are all programs required to be registered with the USDA?

A:  Those programs that do not own animals, do not house animals, use remote sites for hands-on animal instruction, or only treat animals as part of a veterinarian-patient-client relationship have often been told by their local USDA inspector that they do not need to be registered. CVTEA recognizes that the important consideration for accredited programs of veterinary technology is not the registration but the proper concern for the welfare of animals used in teaching. Therefore the Accreditation policies and Procedure of the AVMA CVTEA (Section IV, 5b) states: "Programs must follow all applicable federal and state regulations and guidelines for the care and use of animals utilized by the program. CVTEA endorses the principles of humane care and use of animals as stated in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and requires programs to apply AWA guidelines to all animal use. All animal activities conducted by a program must be approved by an animal care and use committee whose structure and function are in accordance with AWA requirements"

Q:  What animals are to be included for review by the IACUC and in animal use protocols?

A:  The CVTEA requires that animal activities for all species be reviewed and approved by an animal care and use committee.

Q:  What are the minimum standards for an IACUC?

A:  The below information is extracted from the Animal Welfare Regulations, CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), 2005. Title 9 (Animals and Animal Products), Chapter 1 (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Department of Agriculture), Part 2 (Regulations) http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/awr.shtml. Programs are responsible for checking directly with the Act for current information.

AWA regulations state the committee shall be composed of a Chairman and at least two additional members. Research facilities which must meet Public Health Service requirements must have at least 5 members. It is highly recommended that programs consider having more than the minimum 3 members, in order to allow for quorum requirements and conflicts of interest on votes.

At least one shall be a veterinarian with training or experience in the use of the species in question, and who has direct or delegated program responsibility for activities involving animals used in the program.

At least one shall not be affiliated in any way with the facility other than as a member of the Committee, and shall not be a member of the immediate family of a person who is affiliated with the facility (generally known as the "public member"). This person should not be a member of the program's Advisory Committee. The intent is that this person will provide representation for general community interests in the proper care and treatment of animals.

Appointment of IACUC members must be by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or his/her designee known as the Institutional Official (IO) – these appointments (designating the IO and naming members to the IACUC) must be made in writing. It is generally discouraged to name either the IO or the Attending Veterinarian as the Chair of IACUC, in order to avoid conflicts of interest or undue influence on the votes of the committee members.

Q:  How frequently should an IACUC meet?

A:  AWA regulations specify duties that must be accomplished every 6 months, including the conduct of semi-annual facility inspections and programs reviews, and signing the semi-annual reports. By implication, the frequency of IACUC meeting should not be less than once every 6 months.

Programs are responsible for checking directly with the Act for current information at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/awa.shtml

Q:  What constitutes a quorum for IACUC purposes?

A:  A quorum is defined by AWA regulations as a majority of the members. All official votes must gain a majority of votes from a quorum present. "No member may participate in the IACUC review or approval of an activity in which that member has a conflict of interest (e.g., is personally involved in that activity)...nor may a member who has a conflicting interest contribute to the constitution of a quorum." (AWA regulations) This is a problem for facilities who try to use the Program Director as member of the IACUC and Principal Investigator for all protocols, especially if they minimize the size of their IACUC. It would be preferable to have enough IACUC members to allow any IACUC member who is also the Principal Investigator for a protocol to recuse him/herself from the voting.

Programs are responsible for checking directly with the Act for current information at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/awa.shtml

Q:  What is recommended with regard to minutes and reports of an IACUC?

A:  USDA Animal Care Inspection Guide (Guide) , section 9.8.1 on IACUC Review, requires minutes to list members in attendance, report all activities at meeting, and report minority views. It is customary to record the actual number of members approving, withholding approval or abstaining in a vote.

Semi-annual reports are signed by a majority of IACUC members and report any minority views, with this report sent by the IACUC to the Institutional Official. Semi-annual program reviews must review the program of animal care and use – not just inspect facilities. A convenient checklist to use is the one formulated by NIH, found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/sampledoc/cheklist.htm.

Q:  What are some guidelines for animal care and use protocols?

A:  Needed for all activities using animals – not just those "involving procedures that cause more than momentary or slight pain/distress/discomfort" (USDA Category D and E)

Must contain: identification of the species and approximate number of animals to be used, rationale for involving animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers of animals to be used, a complete description of the proposed use of animals, a description of procedures designed to assure that discomfort and pain to animals will be limited...including use of analgesic, anesthetic and tranquilizing drugs where indicated..., and a description of any euthanasia method used.

Specific recommendations for teaching protocols from USDA Research Facility Inspection Guide (Guide), section 9.8.7 on Inspection Protocol Review) include

  1. number of students per animal and procedures to be learned,
  2. a consideration of alternatives such as use of veterinary mannequins,
  3. a complete description of the procedures to be used,
  4. the number of procedures to be performed on each animal is clearly stated, such as injections per animal, injections per day, duration of use, rest time between use, number of uses per week, etc.
  5. the personnel doing the teaching are qualified and properly trained,
  6. if the teaching procedures cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress, proper methods are used to alleviate the pain/distress, including description of the use of anesthesia, analgesia and sedation, as appropriate,
  7. method of euthanasia is described, and it conforms with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.