Changes proposed to four COE accreditation standards

Published on February 16, 2016
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Comments due March 4

The following information was sent today to AVMA members who have subscribed to receive the COE Standard newsletter. To receive news and important information about the veterinary school accreditation process, overseen by the AVMA Council on Education, subscribe to the COE Standard at

The AVMA Council on Education annually reviews four standards in depth to ensure that the Standards of Accreditation meet the needs of the profession, students enrolled in colleges offering veterinary medical educational programs, and society. The Council recently reviewed Standards 3, Physical Facilities and Equipment; Standard 4, Clinical Resources; Standard 5, Information Resources; and Standard 6, Students.

The Council has proposed revisions for the following Standards 3, Physical Facilities and Equipment; Standard 4, Clinical Resources; Standard 5, Information Resources; and Standard 6, Students.

Written comments regarding Standards 3, 4, 5 and 6 and the proposed changes must be postmarked by or mmareshatavma [dot] org (e-mailed) no later than March 4, 2016. All comments will be forwarded to the AVMA Council on Education for consideration. Mail comments to Millie Maresh, Administrative Assistant, AVMA, 1931 N. Meacham Rd., Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360; e-mail mmareshatavma [dot] org.

Below are the proposed changes. Proposed additions are underlined, and proposed deletions marked with strike-through text.

Standard 3, Physical Facilities and Equipment

All aspects of the physical facilities must provide an appropriate learning environment and safety of personnel and animals must be assured. Classrooms, teaching laboratories, teaching hospitals, which may include but are not limited to ambulatory/field service vehicles, seminar rooms, and other teaching spaces shall be clean, maintained in good repair, and adequate in number, size, and equipment for the instructional purposes intended and the number of students enrolled.

Administrative and faculty offices and research laboratories must be sufficient for the needs of the faculty and staff.

An accredited college must maintain an on-campus veterinary teaching hospital(s), or have formal affiliation with one or more off-campus veterinary hospitals used for teaching. Appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic service components, including but not limited to pharmacy, diagnostic imaging, diagnostic support services, isolation facilities, intensive/critical care, ambulatory/field service vehicles, and necropsy facilities must be provided to support the teaching hospital(s) or facilities with operational policies and procedures posted in appropriate places.

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. Adequate teaching, laboratory, research, and clinical equipment must be available for examination, diagnosis, and treatment of all animals used by the college. Safety of personnel and animals must be assured.

This change is proposed to emphasize that safety for personnel and animals is important.

Standard 4, Clinical Resources

Normal and diseased animals of various domestic and exotic species must be available for instructional purposes, either as clinical patients or provided by the institution. While precise numbers are not specified, in-hospital patients and outpatients including field service/ambulatory and herd health/production medicine programs are required to provide the necessary quantity and quality of clinical instruction. The program must be able to demonstrate, using its assessment of clinical competency outcomes data, that the clinical resources are sufficient to achieve the stated educational goals and mission.

It is essential that a diverse and sufficient number of surgical and medical patients be available during an on-campus clinical activity for students' clinical educational experience. Experience can include exposure to clinical education at off-campus sites, provided the college reviews these clinical experiences and educational outcomes. Further, such clinical experiences should occur in a setting that provides access to subject matter experts, reference resources, modern and complete clinical laboratories, advanced diagnostic instrumentation and ready confirmation (including necropsy). Such examples could include a contractual arrangement with nearby practitioners who serve as adjunct faculty members and off-campus field practice centers. The teaching hospital(s) shall provide nursing care and instruction in nursing procedures. A supervised field service and/or ambulatory program must be maintained in which students are offered multiple opportunities to obtain clinical experience under field conditions. Under all situations students must be active participants in the workup of the patient, including physical diagnosis and diagnostic problem oriented decision making

Medical records must be comprehensive and maintained in an effective retrieval system to efficiently support the teaching, research, and service programs of the college.

This statement was added to ensure that veterinary medical colleges have data to justify their clinical caseload.

The Council also added the statement "Include only those patients, farm call, and animals examined that have direct student involvement" to the instructions for completion of Tables A, B, and C in the self-study as found in section 12.4.1 of the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education to clarify how caseload should be counted.

Standard 5, Information Resources

Information retrieval, evaluation, and efficient use are essential to veterinary medical education, research, public service, and continuing education. Timely access to information resources and information professionals must be available to students and faculty at core training sites. The college shall have access to the human, digital, and physical resources for retrieval of relevant veterinary and supporting literature, development of instructional materials, and provide appropriate training for students and faculty. The program must be able to demonstrate, using its outcomes assessment data, that students are competent in retrieving, evaluating, and efficiently applying information through the use of electronic and other appropriate information technologies.

The Council added language to clarify that access to information resources should not just occur on campus, but should also occur at all core locations where students gather for their education. The Council believes that students and faculty should have access to training in the use of available information resources and be able to demonstrate through outcomes assessment that students have achieved these skills.

Standard 6, StudentS

The number of professional degree students, DVM or equivalent must be consistent with the resources and the mission of the college. The program must be able to demonstrate, using its outcomes assessment data, that the resources are sufficient to achieve the stated educational goals for all enrolled students.

Colleges should must develop post-DVM/VMD programs such as internships, residencies and advanced degrees (e.g., MS, PhD), that must complement and strengthen the professional program and not adversely affect the veterinary student experience.

Student support services must be available within the college or university. These must include, but are not limited to, appropriate services to support student wellness and to assist with meeting the academic and personal challenges of the DVM program; support for students with learning or other disabilities; and support of extra-curricular activities relevant to veterinary medicine and professional growth.

In relationship to enrollment, the colleges must provide accurate information for all advertisements regarding the educational program by providing clear and current information for prospective students. Further, printed catalog or electronic information, must state the purpose and goals of the program, provide admission requirements and procedures, state degree requirements, present faculty descriptions, clearly state information on tuition and fees along with procedures for withdrawal, give necessary information for financial aid programs, and provide an accurate academic calendar. The iInformation will available to prospective students must include national and state requirements for licensure.

Each accredited college must provide a mechanism for students, anonymously if they wish, to offer suggestions, comments, and complaints regarding compliance of the college with the Standards of Accreditation. These materials shall be made available to the Council annually.

The Council believes that colleges should demonstrate via the assessment of attainment of the nine clinical competencies that there are adequate resources to deliver the educational program. Language was added to clarify that it is the expectation of the Council that post-DVM/VMD programs will be developed as they add value to the educational experience of the professional student. Language was also added to clarify that state and national licensure information must be available to prospective students.


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