ECFVG News - January 2006

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I.   News from the AVMA Staff and ECFVG Members

II.  ECFVG Program News

III. CPE Scheduling News


I. News from AVMA Staff and ECFVG Members

January 2006

The ECFVG met in Las Vegas, NV on October 31-November 3, 2005. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Phil Bushby representing the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). The Commission welcomed Dr. Kunkle, who began her term on the ECFVG in July 2005, representing the AVMA Council on Education. Dr. Larry Corry, Executive Board member from District IV, serves as the AVMA Board liaison.

The Commission conducted a full business meeting in addition to observing the seven-section Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE) administered by the Western Veterinary Conference. This was the first opportunity for new members and liaisons to familiarize themselves with the CPE, and it allowed the entire Commission a great opportunity to observe the first private, dedicated CPE site in action.

After its deliberations, the Commission forwarded six recommendations to the AVMA Executive Board for consideration; all were subsequently approved:

  1. That the AVMA Executive Board approve the Rules of Conduct for the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE), beginning January 1, 2006.
  2. That the AVMA Executive Board approve the Policies and Procedures for Testing Accommodations.
  3. That the AVMA Executive Board approve revisions to the English Language Waiver Requirements.
  4. That the AVMA Executive Board approve revisions to the "Periodic Monitoring" section of the Quality Assurance for the CPE-Site Proposal document.
  5. That the AVMA Executive Board approve retaining the membership of ECFVG Step 3 Examination Steering Committee regardless of each member's tenure on the ECFVG, and authorize the members whose terms have ended to attend ECFVG meetings as necessary until the new Step 3 examination is developed and initiated, which is anticipated for 2007. (see Development of New Step 3 Examination Begins below)
  6. That the AVMA Executive Board approve discontinuation of the postgraduate evaluated clinical year (ECY) as an assessment method for Step 4 of the ECFVG certification program, beginning July 1, 2007, while at the same time, encouraging the 12 AVMA/Council on Education-accredited schools that administer the ECY to continue to offer a clinical educational program for those foreign veterinary graduates wishing to gain cultural and veterinary experience in a US teaching hospital prior to taking the CPE. (see Postgraduate Evaluated Clinical Year to be Discontinued July 1, 2007 below)

II. ECFVG Program News

Program Statistics
New ECFVG Quality Assurance Program  – 
Development of New Step 3 Examination Begins  – 
Postgraduate Evaluated Clinical Year to be Discontinued July 1, 2007  – 
CPE Fee Changes for New ECFVG Candidates  – 
CPE Payment Procedure Streamlined  – 


Program Statistics

January 2006

From January 1, 2005 through December 21, 603 new candidates registered in the ECFVG program. The new candidate population is diverse, having graduated from more than 75 different non-AVMA/Council on Education-accredited veterinary colleges in more than 40 countries around the world. Twenty-one percent are native-born citizens of the United States and 79% are native-born citizens of other countries.

During that same time, 343 candidates completed the program and were awarded ECFVG certificates. This is the greatest number of certificates awarded in a single year since the original certification program began in May 1965. New certificate holders are graduates of more than 75 different veterinary schools in approximately 40 different countries. Total number of certificates awarded since 1965 exceeds 3,600.


New ECFVG Quality Assurance Program  – 

January 2006

The ECFVG quality assurance program (QAP), which was approved by the AVMA Executive Board in April 2005, begins January 1, 2006. The new QAP will not affect candidates who registered in the ECFVG certification program prior to January 1, 2006. However, it will have the following three-fold effect on candidates registering on and after January 1, 2006:

  1. Initial one-time program costs will increase from $275 to $1,000. Included in this new cost is the ongoing registration fee of $275 and the new ECFVG QAP fee of $725. The registration fee is used to help defray administrative costs of the program, while the QAP fee is maintained in a restricted account to be used only for processes to ensure and enhance standardization of all four program steps.
  2. CPE costs for the full exam will decrease from $6,000 per candidate to $5,000. With initiation of the ECFVG QAP comes discontinuation of the CPE QAP. The CPE QAP fee ($1,000) had been included in the total candidate cost for the examination, and was maintained in a restricted account to be used only to fund processes to enhance the quality of the CPE. The remaining $5,000 was forwarded to the CPE site to help defray administrative costs. Now, because new candidates are paying a program-wide ECFVG QAP fee, no CPE QAP fee will be collected and the entire examination fee of $5,000 will be forwarded to the CPE site. In addition, costs to retake a failed section will decrease from $1,500/section to $1,250/section.
  3. Overall program costs will decrease by $275 for candidates who achieve certification by successfully completing the CPE.

The ECFVG application reflects this change.


Development of New Step 3 Examination Begins  – 

January 2006

In June 2005, the AVMA Executive Board approved a recommendation from the ECFVG to contract with the Baltimore-based test vendor Thomson Prometric to develop and administer a new computer-based examination for use in step three of the ECFVG certification program. The new examination will replace the current Step three examination, the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, which is owned and administered by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. After reviewing numerous proposals, the ECFVG unanimously approved a motion to recommend Thomson Prometric to the board as its preferred vendor. The commission was impressed with Thomson's ability to clearly and succinctly explain the processes used in developing test forms and scoring scales to ensure a psychometrically sound and legally defensible test. Thomson also has a wide network of secure, state-of-the-art, computer-based testing centers, which will allow ECFVG candidates to readily access the new Step three examination.

The Commission met with Thomson Prometric at its October 2005 meeting to finalize a developmental timeline. A Step 3 Examination Steering Committee was appointed, comprising ECFVG members Drs. Phil Bushby, David Hayes, and Don Prater. Annie Liu, Testing Coordinator, will provide AVMA staff support to the Steering Committee, which held its first meeting with Thomson Prometric consultants on December 19.

Once the new Step 3 examination is launched, anticipated for 2007, certification of educational equivalency will be a separate process that occurs prior to the licensure process. ECFVG certificate holders, who will meet the educational prerequisite for licensure eligibility, will then need to successfully complete all state licensing requirements, including any national and state examinations.


Postgraduate Evaluated Clinical Year to be Discontinued July 1, 2007  – 

January 2006

In November 2005, the AVMA Executive Board approved a recommendation from the ECFVG that will modify the purpose and role of the postgraduate Evaluated Clinical Year (ECY) currently offered at 12 AVMA/Council on Education-accredited veterinary colleges. Commencing July 1, 2007 the Evaluated Clinical Year will be considered an Instructional Clinical Year and will no longer satisfy the Step 4 requirements for ECFVG certification.

Candidates currently enrolled in ECY programs will have until July 1, 2007 to complete the ECY and have it count as the final step towards certification. The 12 ECY sites can continue to admit ECFVG candidates into ECY programs as long as the program is structured to allow candidates to finish prior to July 1, 2007. In addition, petitions for approval of clinical experience at an AVMA-accredited college of veterinary medicine when the experience is out of sequence or at a program not yet approved by the ECFVG (revised) will be accepted and reviewed only if all required evaluations will be completed before July 1, 2007.

The decision to discontinue the ECY came after years of serious research and deliberations aimed at ensuring the ECFVG process is standardized, psychometrically sound, and legally defensible. In April 1998, the Executive Board approved a plan to strengthen the ECFVG process. Since 2002, the ECFVG has worked with testing consultants from the Chauncey Group International (now Thomson Prometric) to determine whether:

  • the CPE and ECY assess the same clinical skills;
  • the ECY is administered in a standardized fashion across all sites;
  • the ECY is psychometrically sound and legally defensible; and
  • quality assurance processes can be implanted to standardize the ECY.

In 2002/2003, a preliminary audit was conducted at the then 11 schools that administered the ECY. The ECY ranged from as few as 36 to as many as 49 weeks, and the number of weeks spent on different disciplines also varied. Additionally, the number of eligible ECFVG candidates applying to any one ECY program ranged from 15 to 60, whereas the number accepted ranged from 1 to 12. Thus, unlike the CPE in which all eligible candidates can take the examination once they apply, some ECY-eligible candidates may not get accepted into a program. Finally, although the guidelines for sites administering the ECY indicate that "while it is recognized that some training will occur during the year of clinical experience, it is primarily a period of evaluation and is not considered a substitute for college-level instruction," all sites responding to the preliminary audit indicated that ECFVG candidates are performing the same tasks and being evaluated in the same manner as senior veterinary students. Only two sites indicated that ECFVG candidates were at times, but not often, being evaluated in a manner that represents their higher level of attainment (graduate veterinarians vs. students).

The ECFVG does recognize the value of a clinical educational year for non-native-born US citizens educated in other countries to voluntarily gain experience with the standards of US veterinary medical practice and culture. For this reason, the ECFVG strongly encourages ECY sites to promote and offer Instructional Clinical Years for those candidates who need the additional educational experience to be successful.


CPE Fee Changes for New ECFVG Candidates  – 

January 2006

The CPE Quality Assurance Program, and the associated $1,000 fee, has been discontinued for candidates who register in the ECFVG certification program for the first time on and after January 1, 2006. These candidates will have already paid the one-time ECFVG Quality Assurance Program fee of $725. Thus, the total cost of the CPE for such candidates will be $5,000, all of which will be forwarded to the CPE site to help defray administrative expenses. The CPE application reflects this change.


CPE Payment Procedure Streamlined  – 

January 2006

Beginning January 1, 2006, all CPE payments will need to be in the form of a cashier's check or money order made payable to "AVMA" rather than to "CPE" or "AVMA/CPE/QAP." This will allow the ECFVG office to centralize the payment process, which will make transfer of fees to the seven ECFVG-approved CPE sites much easier and quicker than the current system, regardless of rescheduling or other candidate issues.


III. CPE Scheduling News

January 2006

In the final seven months of 2006, the ECFVG approved two new CPE sites—one private site in Las Vegas, and a sixth university-affiliated site at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. The addition of two new sites created more than 100 new exam positions in 2005. Currently, all CPE-eligible candidates who have requested a CPE application have received one, and all who have returned an application have been assigned a CPE date. As of December 22, 2005, all January and February CPE positions are full; three March positions remain open at the University of Glasgow (Scotland) site; all positions are full in April, five May positions remain open at the Western Veterinary Conference site; and multiple positions are open for exams administered June-December, 2006.