Last update to this section: June 2023
2. Principles of accreditation
2.1 Standards of accreditation
2.1.1 Standards of accreditation
The COE is charged with developing, adopting, and implementing standard requirements for the accreditation of veterinary colleges leading to the DVM or equivalent degree. These Standards are the criteria by which all colleges are evaluated. The Standards currently in place are listed below. The full description of the criteria by which colleges are evaluated, and the evidence required to determine if each Standard is met, is included in Section 4.2.1 Appendix E – Self-study Guidelines. The Council accredits only those programs that demonstrate that they meet the Standards of an Accredited College of Veterinary Medicine, their own stated educational goals and objectives, and that materially comply with Council procedures and directives.
The following definitions will be used in applying the Standards:
Must: Indicates a mandatory requirement
Should: Indicates the recommended and highly desirable manner in which to attain the Standard
Standard 1 – Organization
Accreditation is a voluntary process. To achieve accreditation or remain accredited, the institution must comply with Council policies, processes, procedures, and directives.
The college must develop and follow its mission statement.
An accredited college of veterinary medicine must be a part of an institution of higher learning accredited by an organization recognized for that purpose by its country's government. A college may be accredited only when it is a major academic administrative division of the parent institution and is afforded the same recognition, status, and autonomy as other professional colleges in that institution.
The chief executive officer/dean must be a veterinarian. This individual must have overall budgetary and supervisory authority necessary to assure compliance with accreditation standards. The officer(s) responsible for the professional, ethical, and academic affairs of the veterinary medical teaching hospital(s) or equivalent must also be veterinarians.
There must be sufficient administrative staff to adequately manage the affairs of the college as appropriate to the enrollment and operation.
The college must have and follow a statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion, consistent with applicable law. The college must create and promote an institutional structure and climate that does not discriminate and seeks to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion, consistent with applicable law. Diversity may include, but is not limited to, race, color, religion, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, first language, cultural and socioeconomic background, national origin, tribal membership, citizen status, and disability. The college or institution must establish a reliable, effective reporting and response system, and, if warranted, a process to remedy instances of discrimination and other forms of harassment involving faculty, staff and students.
Standard 2 - Finances
Finances must be adequate to sustain the educational programs and mission of the college.
Colleges with non DVM undergraduate degree programs must clearly report finances (expenditures and revenues) specific to those programs separately from finances (expenditures and revenues) dedicated to all other educational programs.
Standard 3 - Physical Facilities and Equipment
All aspects of the physical facilities to which students are exposed must provide an appropriate learning environment. Safety of personnel and animals must be a high priority. Classrooms, teaching laboratories, teaching hospitals, and other clinical teaching sites 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 and personnel utilizing these facilities.
Offices, workspaces, laboratories, toilets, and locker rooms must be sufficient for the needs of the students, 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 or other training sites used for teaching. Off-campus required training sites must be directly (in-person) and regularly (no less than annually) inspected and overseen by qualified college personnel to provide a safe and effective learning environment. Appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic service components must be present to meet the expectations of the practice type. These include, but are not limited to, pharmacy, diagnostic imaging, diagnostic support services, isolation facilities, intensive/critical care, ambulatory/field service vehicles, and necropsy facilities in the teaching hospital(s) and/or facilities that provide required clinical training. Operational policies and procedures must be posted in appropriate places. Standards related to providing an adequate teaching environment and safety of personnel and animals shall apply to all teaching hospitals and locations where required training takes place.
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.
Standard 4 - Clinical Resources
Normal and diseased animals of various domestic and exotic species must be available for instructional purposes. Normal animals can be provided by the institution in on or off-campus settings, or be client-owned animals presented for preventive veterinary medical care, on or off-campus. Diseased animals must include client-owned clinical patients with spontaneous diseases presented for veterinary medical care or testing in on or off-campus environments. 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 on-campus and off-campus clinical activities for students' clinical educational experience. Experience can include exposure to clinical education at off-campus sites, provided the college regularly, via in-person or virtual interpersonal communication with students and off-campus instructors reviews and monitors these clinical experiences and educational outcomes. All required clinical training sites must demonstrate a commitment to instructional quality. 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 practitioners who serve as adjunct faculty members and off-campus field practice centers.
The required on-campus and off-campus clinical training sites must provide nursing care and instruction in nursing procedures, as well as instruction in managing health care teams. 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. Students must be trained in the use of an electronic medical records system.
Standard 5 - Information Resources
Timely access to information resources and information professionals must be available to students and faculty at required training sites. The college must have access to up-to-date human, digital, and physical resources for retrieval of relevant veterinary and supporting literature and for development of instructional materials, and provide appropriate training and technical support for students and faculty. The program must be able to demonstrate, using its outcomes assessment data, that students are competent in retrieving, evaluating, and applying information through the use of electronic and other appropriate information technologies.
Standard 6 - Students
The number of professional degree students in all phases of the program, 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 veterinary students engaged in its programs.
The college must expose students to opportunities in post-DVM programs such as internships, residencies, fellowships, and advanced degrees (e.g., MS, PhD). Colleges should establish such post-DVM programs that complement and strengthen the professional program. Such programs must not adversely affect the veterinary student experience. The college must expose students to post-DVM programs.
Student support services must be available, accessible, and publicized within the college or university. Colleges must provide or facilitate access to support services to students when engaged in off-campus learning experiences. 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; support diversity, equity, and inclusion awareness programs for students; and support of extra-curricular activities relevant to veterinary medicine and professional growth.
The college or parent institution must provide information and access to counselling services regarding financial aid, debt management, and career advising. Career advising must include selection of clinical experiences.
The college must promote an institutional climate and culture that fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion, within the student body, consistent with applicable law.
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, provide an accurate academic calendar, clearly state information on educational cost and debt risk, for the college. The college must provide information on procedures for withdrawal including the refund of student's tuition and fees allowable. Information available to prospective students must include relevant requirements for professional licensure. This must include an indication of which US states the college's curriculum meets, does not meet, or it is undetermined whether it meets the requirements for professional licensure, as applicable.
Each accredited college must notify students and 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.
Standard 7 - Admission
The college must have a well-defined and officially stated admissions policy and a process that ensures a fair and consistent assessment of applicants. The policy must provide for an admissions committee, a majority of whom must be full-time faculty members. The membership of the admissions committee should rotate on a regular basis with the exception of ex-officio members (e.g. three to five year terms with defined term limits). The committee must make recommendations regarding the students to be admitted to the professional curriculum upon consideration of applications of candidates who meet the academic and other requirements as defined in the college's formal admission policy.
Participants contributing to the evaluation of applicants must have received training in how to recognize and address bias in the admission process.
The college must demonstrate its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through its recruitment and admission processes, as consistent with applicable law. Such initiatives should include programs that promote achieving diversity among qualified applicants for veterinary college admission. The college must review its admissions processes at least every seven years, including identifying and reducing barriers in the application process. The college's admissions policies must be non-discriminatory, as consistent with applicable law.
Subjects for admission must include those courses prerequisite to the professional program in veterinary medicine, as well as courses that contribute to a broad general education. The goal of pre-veterinary education shall be to provide a broad base upon which professional education may be built, leading to lifelong learning with continued professional and personal development.
Factors other than academic achievement must be considered for admission criteria.
Standard 8 - Faculty
Faculty numbers and qualifications must be sufficient to deliver the educational program and fulfill the mission of the college. Participation in scholarly activities is an important criterion in evaluating the faculty and the college. The college must provide evidence that it utilizes a well-defined and comprehensive program for the evaluation of professional growth, development, and scholarly activities of the faculty.
Academic positions must offer the security and benefits necessary to maintain stability, continuity, and competence of the faculty. The college must cultivate a diverse faculty through its hiring policies and retention practices, consistent with applicable law. Search committees must be trained on best practices resulting in inclusive searches, including recognizing and addressing bias in the search process. The college must strive to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all faculty. The college must demonstrate its ongoing efforts to achieve parity in advancement opportunities and compensation for all faculty members, as consistent with applicable law. Part-time faculty, residents, and graduate students may supplement the teaching efforts of the full-time permanent faculty if appropriately integrated into the instructional program.
Standard 9 - Curriculum
The curriculum shall extend over a period equivalent to a minimum of four academic years, including a minimum of one academic year of hands-on clinical education. The curriculum and educational process should initiate and promote lifelong learning in each professional degree candidate.
The curriculum in veterinary medicine is the purview of the faculty of each college, but must be managed centrally based upon the mission and resources of the college. There must be sufficient flexibility in curriculum planning and management to facilitate timely revisions in response to emerging issues, and advancements in knowledge and technology. The curriculum must be guided by a college curriculum committee. The curriculum as a whole must be reviewed at least every seven (7) years. The majority of the members of the curriculum committee must be full-time faculty. Curriculum evaluations should include the gathering of sufficient qualitative and quantitative information to ensure the curriculum content provides current concepts and principles as well as instructional quality and effectiveness.
The curriculum must provide:
- an understanding of the central biological principles and mechanisms that underlie animal health and disease from the molecular and cellular level to organismal and population manifestations.
- scientific, discipline-based instruction in an orderly and concise manner so that students gain an understanding of normal function, homeostasis, pathophysiology, mechanisms of health/disease, and the natural history and manifestations of important animal diseases, both domestic and foreign.
- instruction in both the theory and practice of medicine and surgery applicable to a broad range of species. The instruction must include principles and hands-on experiences in physical and laboratory diagnostic methods and interpretation (including diagnostic imaging, diagnostic pathology, and necropsy), disease prevention, biosecurity, therapeutic intervention (including surgery and dentistry), and patient management and care (including intensive care, emergency medicine and isolation procedures) involving clinical diseases of individual animals and populations. Instruction should emphasize problem solving that results in making and applying medical judgments.
- instruction in the principles of epidemiology, zoonoses, food safety, the interrelationship of animals and the environment, and the contribution of the veterinarian to the overall public and professional healthcare teams.
- opportunities for students to learn how to acquire information from clients (e.g. history) and about patients (e.g. medical records), to obtain, store and retrieve such information, and to communicate effectively with clients and colleagues.
- opportunities throughout the curriculum for students to gain an understanding of professional ethical, legal, economic, and regulatory principles related to the delivery of veterinary medical services, personal and business finance and management skills; and gain an understanding of the breadth of veterinary medicine, career opportunities and other information about the profession.
- Opportunities throughout the curriculum for students to gain and integrate an understanding of the important influences of diversity, equity, and inclusion in veterinary medicine, including the impact of implicit bias related to an individual's personal circumstance on the delivery of veterinary medical services.
- knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, aptitudes and behaviors necessary to address responsibly the health and well-being of animals in the context of ever-changing societal expectations.
- fair and equitable assessment of student progress. The grading system for the college must be relevant and applied to all students in a fair and uniform manner.
Standard 10 - Research Programs
The college must maintain substantial research activities of high quality that integrate with and strengthen the professional program. Continuing scholarly productivity within the college must be demonstrated and the college must provide opportunities for any interested students in the professional veterinary program to be exposed to or participate in on-going high-quality research. All students must receive training in the principles and application of research methods and in the appraisal and integration of research into veterinary medicine and animal health.
Standard 11 - Outcomes Assessment
Outcomes of the veterinary medical degree program must be measured, analyzed, and considered to improve the program. New graduates must have the basic scientific knowledge, skills, and values to provide entry-level health care, independently, at the time of graduation. Student achievement must be included in outcome assessment. Processes must be in place to remediate students who do not demonstrate competence in one or more of the nine competencies.
The college should have in place a system to gather outcomes data on recent graduates to ensure that the competencies and learning objectives in the program result in relevant entry level competencies. Data must be collected from both graduates and employers of graduate and evaluated.
The college must have processes in place whereby students are observed and assessed formatively and summatively, with timely documentation to assure accuracy of the assessment for having attained the following competencies:
- comprehensive patient diagnosis (problem solving skills), appropriate use of diagnostic testing, and record management
- comprehensive treatment planning including patient referral when indicated
- anesthesia and pain management, patient welfare
- basic surgery skills and case management
- basic medicine skills and case management
- emergency and intensive care case management
- understanding of health promotion, and biosecurity, prevention and control of disease including zoonoses and principles of food safety
- ethical and professional conduct, including the knowledge, skills, and core professional attributes needed to provide culturally competent veterinary care in a multidimensional and diverse society; communication skills; including those that demonstrate an understanding and sensitivity to how diversity and individual circumstance impact veterinary care
- critical analysis of new information and research findings relevant to veterinary medicine.
The Council on Education expects that 80% or more of each college's graduating senior students sitting for the NAVLE will have passed at the time of graduation.*
*Colleges that do not meet this criterion will be subjected to the following analysis. The Council will calculate a 95% exact binomial confidence interval for the NAVLE scores for colleges whose NAVLE pass rate falls below 80%. Colleges with an upper limit of an exact 95% binomial confidence interval less than 85% for two successive years in which scores are available will be placed on Probationary Accreditation. Colleges with an upper limit of an exact 95% binomial confidence level less than 85% for four successive years in which scores are available will, for cause, be placed on Terminal Accreditation. If no program graduates take the NAVLE, the Council will use other student educational outcomes in assessing compliance with the standard, including those listed in the self-study guidelines.
2.1.2 Standard development
In developing standards, all committees within the COE are substantially involved in the process, with final adoption of revisions established by majority vote of current COE members. Outside input is solicited from the entire veterinary medical profession, as well as from stakeholders of the profession. Input from other interested parties also is sought and reviewed. Suggested additions or changes in the Standards are placed on the AVMA website (in the public section), requesting comments from the profession and the public. Notification of the open comment period to the profession and the public is done via AVMA communication modalities, e.g., blogposts, electronic newsletters, and by posting on the AVMA website (in the public section). All college deans, regional accreditors, and selected specialized accreditors are provided the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes by direct notification. Comments are received by the staff to the Council for a period of two weeks. The staff collates the input received, and provides it for the Council's review prior to the subsequent meeting, when the input received is discussed. The full Council votes before the new or revised Standard is finalized. When a new or revised Standard is approved by the COE, it is published in the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education manual. The manual is updated semi-annually, as needed.
2.1.3 Review of existing standards
The Council's ongoing review of the Standards results in their evolution, based upon changes in the educational and professional community. Requests for modifying the Standards are received from a variety of sources, and action on these suggestions is the result of broad input by the profession. Two forms of revision are used: the revision of an existing Standard to meet evolving educational and professional needs; and developing a new Standard in response to changes in contemporary education, or professional needs or processes. As a result of these processes, Standards may be revised, added, or deleted.
In order to provide that the Standards of Accreditation meet the needs of students in veterinary medical educational programs and the resultant practitioners in the profession, the adequacy and relevancy of the standards must be assessed on an ongoing basis. For the purpose of definition, adequacy is a measure of quality in outcome (preparation for practice), as measured by such indicators as those reported for Standard 11, e.g., alumni and employer satisfaction and NAVLE scores. Relevancy measures the consistent application and interpretation of the standards. In order for standards to be adequate, they must be relevant. The standards go through a rigorous process of review whereby veterinary professionals and stakeholders are asked for their input on standards and any proposed changes to the standards.
The COE Committee on Academic Affairs considers the Standards and any revision suggested in relation to changing educational processes, demographics, impact on the profession, impact on the students and faculty, impact on the colleges, and expected outcome for students. The review also consists of carefully reviewing the Standards for content, clarity, and contemporary need. The committee considers comments from any source, paying particular attention to third party and student comments (if any); the survey of education consumers; input from the site visit surveys; and any other available resources. Revisions proposed by the Academic Affairs Committee are voted on by the Council. Approved revisions are circulated to deans of veterinary colleges and others (as described above) for input. Adopted changes are reported to the colleges and the profession and the public.
Each year four Standards of Accreditation, as well as the associated guidelines for those Standards (Section 4.2.1 Appendix E – Self-study Guidelines), are comprehensively reviewed by the COE Committee on Academic Affairs. This is done whether or not input has been received from the professional community or the public. As a result of this review, Standards may be revised or refined for clarification, undergo no change, be dropped, or be subjected to comprehensive revision resulting in a more effective means of assessing the veterinary medical programs. None of these changes occur without soliciting input as described above. Using the above-noted system, review of the 11 Standards of Accreditation occurs approximately every four years to coincide with the Survey of Stakeholder Groups in the validity and reliability assessment.
When modification occurs, the revision is reported to the deans of colleges of veterinary medicine who are given instruction on implementation. Finally, the veterinary medical community is notified of the change through publication in the JAVMA and on the AVMA web site (in the public section), and through AVMA communication modalities (e.g. blogs, electronic newsletters).
The COE believes a minimum time span should elapse between the adoption of new or revised Standards and their implementation. The COE acknowledges that some time is necessary to allow colleges to understand and adjust to the new or revised Standard(s); nevertheless, colleges are expected to implement new Standards as soon as is reasonably possible, typically within no more than one year. The COE will enforce new or revised Standards one year after the Standards are adopted.
In addition to the measures described above, the Council conducts a holistic review of all Standards every four years. This process is initiated by conducting a short survey to evaluate the adequacy of the Standards as a whole in conjunction with a larger survey that was developed by reducing each Standard to its simplest components. Assessed in this format are the ease and consistency of interpretation of the components of each Standard, and a measure of the level of contribution of each component to the preparation of graduates.
The larger survey sample includes 5,200 veterinary practitioners, the executive director of each state veterinary medical association, 2,400 faculty members in US veterinary colleges, 1,700 currently enrolled, fourth-year veterinary students in US veterinary colleges, and deans from all the US veterinary colleges. Sample sizes for veterinary practitioners, veterinary faculty and senior students are selected to provide a minimum confidence level of 95% +/5. At the same time the statistical survey is being completed, a survey instrument assessing the ease and consistency of interpretation of each of the Standards and a measure of the level of contribution of each Standard to the preparation of graduates will be posted on the AVMA website (in the public section). This survey will be open to the profession and the public for the same time frame as the statistical survey is open.
Data collected are analyzed and summarized by the AVMA Survey Research Group (SRG), and the analysis is presented to the COE. The Committee on Academic Affairs evaluates the survey analysis for impact on the Standards, and presents appropriate recommendations to the COE, based on its evaluation. The Council may request further analysis if the responses related to 1) ease of interpretation, or 2) the level of importance as a contributor to the education of veterinary professionals for any standard component is below 80%. Proposed revision to the Standards is initiated when the review of the analysis is complete.
2.2.1 Purpose and general description
The Council evaluates each college of veterinary medicine by whether it meets its own stated mission and by its compliance with the COE Standards of Accreditation. To maintain accreditation, veterinary colleges must provide an extensive self-evaluation and arrange for a site visit at intervals of not more than seven years.
More frequent site visits may be scheduled for colleges with Probationary Accreditation. The Council reserves the right to schedule site visits on a more frequent basis if information of concern is received in an annual report, in response to complaints received by the COE, or if other information concerning the college's compliance with the Standards is made known to the COE. A developing college still under a reasonable assurance designation or Provisional Accreditation is visited as described in Section 3.2. The Council expects every college of veterinary medicine to engage in ongoing evaluation of all elements of the educational programs as they relate to the Standards. The self-evaluation report is a summary of the current state of regular self-evaluation.
Administrators, faculty, students and alumni of the college are best qualified to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the college, and should be consulted in preparation of the self-study. Committees composed of the above groups should be established by the administration for the purpose of composing the self-study. Department input should be included in the self-study, but not as a separate section of the document. As an outside group, the Council gains its best perception of a college through the eyes of those most closely involved.
The self-study report is the single most important document of the accreditation process, and serves as the principal element of evidence that the program and resources of the college comply with the Standards of Accreditation. Each site team member is provided a copy of the self-study, and it is made available to all Council members. The accreditation site visit serves to clarify and verify that the self-study is a true reflection of the conditions of the college.
The Council is seeking evidence-based documentation indicating that the college complies with each Standard. The Council broadly evaluates student outcomes that address technical knowledge and skills, and life skills (e.g., problem solving, communication, business and personal finance, etc.). Thus, the system of self-evaluation used by each college must include these outcomes. Specific compliance with each standard is judged by the Council based upon the adequacy/quality of the professional education program, as presented in the self-study, verified during the site visit, and documented in the site visit report of evaluation.
2.2.2 Guidelines for the self-study
No later than eight weeks before the site visit, the college must provide the self-study as a hard copy (one only) and in electronic format to the AVMA office. The electronic copy should be sent either by e-mail or made available using an online method for downloading. Sufficient electronic and hard copies must also be prepared and shipped by the college to each site team member. Failure to file a suitable report by the deadline, and in the formats specified, may result in postponement of the site visit.
Guidance and the elements necessary for the self-study are provided in Section 4.2.1 Appendix E – Self-Study Guidelines. The required information must be written in a concise manner. Where appropriate, the information/data presented must be analyzed and/or summarized for brevity and clarity. The information provided under each Standard is evaluated by the Council in relation to that Standard and to the mission of the college in order to determine compliance. Should the college deem that background information would be helpful for the Council to understand a given issue or condition, the information should be included in a summary format in appropriate appendices.
The self-study should not be more than 105 pages in total, inclusive of appendices, with minimum of size 11 font. Addendums should be those required and those the college believes will assist in understanding how the college complies with a Standard. Links to websites should be limited to those required, e.g., published admissions requirements and NAVLE scores. In preparing the self-study, appropriate data should be presented in an easily understandable form (e.g., graphs, charts, etc.) that clearly describes trends. Colleges should not include educational philosophies or long explanations, but include brief explanations that may assist the site team and Council in understanding how the program is complying with a Standard. When printing the self-study, font size that is easily readable should be used (no smaller than font size 11). Hard copies of the self-study should be bound using a plastic or wire spiral binding product (not a loose-leaf, notebook format). Additional materials may be placed in the meeting room for the site team, but the Council does not require these materials and they should be kept to a minimum.
The college report should be primarily in narrative form with appropriate tables and diagrams attached as appendices. Minority opinions at any level should be included under appropriate heading. The appropriate administrative officer should provide an executive summary of the self-study addressing strengths and weaknesses of program elements as covered by the Standards.
Access to all materials related to student recruitment into the professional veterinary medical program shall be made available to the site visit team prior to or during the visit. These materials shall include digital content, as well as brochures, pamphlets, posters, displays, videos, publications, and other materials used to advertise the program to prospective students.
2.3 Site visit
2.3.1 General description and objectives
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 COE, or another accrediting agency, every effort is made to coordinate and cooperate with other accrediting agencies in requests for information and in conducting visits.
At least nine months before the end of the period for which a college is accredited, the dean is alerted to the requirements for preliminary reports, and arrangements for a site visit are made. A copy of the current Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education is sent to the dean. The timing of the site visit is made in consultation with the dean. If unusual conditions exist, such as a natural disaster or a public health threat, the COE will follow guidelines for scheduling and conducting site visits according to its Emergency Conditions Policy (Section 4.2.2 Appendix F– Emergency Conditions Policy).
Using the college self-study as the basis for evaluation, a site visit is conducted. Input is sought from all components and stakeholders 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. The rubric for a comprehensive site visit is included in Section 4.2.5 Appendix I – Comprehensive Site Visit Rubric. Rubrics used for Consultative Visits and visits for Provisionally Accredited Colleges are available on request.
The site visit is a point-in-time observation ("still photograph") of a dynamic process representing current conditions in the college. The team should not 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 assessments of compliance. This understanding should not discourage the college from explaining future efforts that might improve the quality of education, research, or service to the profession, but such plans must be considered 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.
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, information technology staff, 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 to be 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 directives are based on discussion noted in the commentary provided by the site team under each Standard. 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 (excluding observers) discusses and approves all directives, which become part of the report. The site team may also add suggestions when a college is in compliance with a Standard, but an opportunity to make a suggestion for improvement has been identified. If there is disagreement within a team concerning a directive or suggestion, the item remains in the report, and the disagreement is called to the attention of the Council when the report is presented.
2.3.2 Type of site visits – Consultative, comprehensive, focused
Three types of site visits may be conducted by the COE: consultative, comprehensive, and focused. The procedures vary slightly for colleges outside the US and Canada, but the criteria for evaluation are the same for all colleges worldwide. The composition of the team varies by the type of site visit. There are two COE members assigned as reviewers for all site visits. The cumulative number of all types of site visits in a 12-month period will be no more than 12.
Consultative visit – US and Canadian colleges
Upon request, the Council will consider evaluation of an existing, proposed, or newly established college. The Council and/or staff offers reasonable consultation to any college concerning accreditation including Reasonable Assurance and Provisional Accreditation (see Section 3.1). A request should focus on a specific item(s) wherein the college wishes advice. The advice provided is not an official recommendation from the COE. The cost of the consultation is paid by the college.
If a proposed US or Canadian veterinary college is seeking a Letter of Reasonable Assurance, the college must first request a consultative site visit. A fee will be charged for this consultative site visit (see Section 3). All expenses for the consultative site visit are paid by the proposed college. The consultative report is an unofficial report of the college's readiness for a Letter of Reasonable Assurance. Should the college subsequently request a comprehensive visit for seeking a Letter of Reasonable Assurance, the consultative report will be shared with the comprehensive site visit team.
Upon request, Reasonable Assurance evaluations and consultative site visits for proposed programs are conducted essentially the same as evaluations for established accredited programs. The self-study report, the site visit, and the report of evaluation address the Standard requirements based on plans and existing resources such as budget, facilities, faculty, and administration. A Reasonable Assurance evaluation is based on planned action and preliminary arrangements so long as the Council deems the implementation of such planned actions to be reasonable, pragmatic, and feasible within an appropriate time frame.
Comprehensive site visits – US and Canada
Comprehensive site visits are conducted at least every 7 years for accredited colleges in the US and Canada, and more frequently for provisionally accredited colleges (see section 3.1). A comprehensive site visit also is conducted prior to granting Reasonable Assurance. The Report of Evaluation resulting from a comprehensive site visit is reviewed by the entire COE prior to making accreditation decisions.
Consultative visits – outside the US and Canada
If an established veterinary medical college outside the US and Canada seeks accreditation, the college must request a consultative site visit for advice on its readiness for attaining accreditation status (see Section 3.3). The consultative report is an unofficial report of the college's readiness for accreditation. Should the college subsequently request a comprehensive visit for initial accreditation consideration, the consultative report will be shared with the comprehensive site visit team.
When a college is seeking initial accreditation and a consultative site visit has been scheduled, two COE reviewers will be assigned to conduct a pre-review of the self-study. The COE reviewers and consultative site team, in consultation with COE staff, will review the self-study and determine if the college appears to meet all or most of the Standards. In the event it is believed that the college falls short of meeting one or more Standards, a consultative site visit will not be conducted, and the college will be notified of the perceived deficiencies.
Comprehensive – outside the US and Canada
For colleges seeking initial accreditation, after receipt of the COE's consultative report and the submission of a detailed response to all points raised by the consultative site team, an established veterinary medical college outside the US and Canada seeking accreditation may request a comprehensive site visit. The application for a comprehensive site visit by the COE must occur within three years of the consultative site visit. If the COE does not receive such application within the three-year period, the college must wait an additional two years before reapplying (see Section 3.3).
Visits to veterinary colleges outside the US and Canada may require slight alterations in several areas of standard operating procedure, but not in interpreting the Standards. The site team selection process for US colleges is used with the following exception: the geographically closest, appropriate veterinary licensing body or association (state, district, regional, national, or other) is asked to appoint two members in good standing to the COE site visit team. The representatives appointed must have no conflict of interest with the college, and must verify this fact by signing the AVMA Conflict of Interest Statement for Site Team Members. The individuals selected must speak fluent English.
A College may request that a COE comprehensive visit be held in conjunction with another accrediting body (joint site visit). This may be done at the discretion of the Council. The COE will cooperate with the international accreditors in scheduling the time and itinerary for the visit. Each accrediting agency will independently make a decision on the accreditation status of the college. The COE will use its scoring rubric and Standards of Accreditation to assess the school's compliance with the Standards. Any addendums to the Report of Evaluation to account for the variance of standards between accreditors that do not specifically address the COE's Standards of Accreditation will be removed from the final COE report.
Students enrolled in and completing the professional program in an AVMA COE accredited veterinary college outside the US and Canada will be considered graduates of an accredited college if they graduate after the date of the site visit resulting in accreditation status. Persons receiving a diploma, certification, qualification, or other designated degree prior to the date of the site visit resulting in AVMA COE accreditation will not be considered graduates of an AVMA COE accredited college.
Students enrolled in accredited colleges of veterinary medicine may or may not be permitted to transfer to another AVMA COE accredited program, at the discretion of each institution. Each AVMA COE accredited veterinary college outside the US and Canada is required to provide an annual interim report to the AVMA COE. This report is used to assess its progress and to identify major changes in the college or its support units regarding the Standards.
All correspondence and conversation with the AVMA, including the self-study document, must be in English. If any portion of the veterinary educational program is conducted in a language other than English, the AVMA COE may employ a translator of its choosing. The cost of the translation will be charged to the college.
Focused visit – all accredited and provisionally accredited colleges
A focused site visit can be requested by an AVMA COE accredited veterinary medical college, or be initiated by the COE based upon the contents of the college's annual interim report or third party (faculty, student, or public) comment, or other applicable information (as determined by the COE). The focused site visit is usually conducted by one or two COE site visitors, one of whom served on the original comprehensive site visit team. The college is requested to provide information regarding the concerns prompting the site visit. The COE will assign an accreditation status based upon evaluation of compliance with the Standards.
2.3.3 Cost recovery for site visits
The costs for site visits of all types for all colleges of veterinary medicine world-wide are paid by those colleges. Site visit team members are reimbursed for their expenses, but no honoraria are paid.
2.3.4 Site visitors
Site visit teams are selected to represent educators, practitioners, and others (including public members) in the proportion necessary to evaluate a college and its programs.
- US – Accreditation site teams are composed of at least five trained site visitors, at least four of whom shall be trained site visitors selected by the COE (one of whom will serve as chair) and one trained site visitor selected by the CVMA. In addition, the team will be accompanied by one or two current COE member(s) (non-voting observers), and one staff member (non-voting).
- Canada – Accreditation site teams are composed of at least five trained site visitors, at least two of whom shall be trained site visitors (one of whom will serve as chair) selected by the COE and three trained site visitors selected by the CVMA. In addition, the team will be accompanied by one or two current COE member(s) (non-voting observers), and one staff member (non-voting).
- Colleges outside the US and Canada – Accreditation site teams are composed of six trained site visitors; three trained site visitors (one of whom shall serve as chair) selected by the COE, one trained site visitor selected by the CVMA, and two members from the country wherein the college is located, with the exception of joint site visits where the make-up of the team shall be decided collaboratively by the accrediting bodies. The COE site visitors serving on a joint site visit team will be chosen by the COE, and must be experienced in accrediting schools and are required to have participated in at least one site visit prior to the joint site visit. Teams visiting Colleges outside the US and Canada will be accompanied by one or two current COE member(s) (non-voting observers), and one staff member (non-voting).
- Advisory/Consultative site team – These site teams are composed of at least three trained site visitors and one staff member (non-voting). In addition, the team will be accompanied by one or two current COE member(s) (non-voting observers).
A staff member will accompany each site team and assist in coordinating activities. Staff will consider how each of the Standard requirements is being met by the college and note any points not covered in the Self-Study report. If major deficiencies are found in the material presented, staff will notify the Chair of the site team, who will request that the college provide supplemental material.
2.3.5 Application and appointment procedures
Site visitors serve six-year, staggered terms. An annual call for applications and nominations will be distributed broadly. Veterinarians and former COE public members are eligible to be considered to be site visitors. The COE will review the credentials of the applicants and nominees and select site visitors. A committee will be appointed by the COE Chair for this purpose. A pool of trained site visitors will be maintained. Site visitors whose terms are expiring may be reappointed for an additional six-year term.
Site visitors are identified and assigned to each team by the chair of the Evaluation Committee. These individuals participate as volunteers and are not eligible for honorariums, but may be reimbursed, when necessary, for transportation, food, lodging, and incidental expenses.
An effort will be made to balance the areas of expertise on the site visit teams. Most site visit teams include a representative of the CVMA appointed by that organization. No member is assigned to a site visit team until they have completed training and orientation.
2.3.6 Code of conduct & confidentiality
Each site team member is required to sign a Conflict of Interest/Confidentiality Statement (see Section 4.1.4 Appendix D – Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest). The Chair of the Evaluation Committee will ensure that site visitors with a conflict of interest for a specific college will not be assigned for the team visiting that college. The dean of the college to be visited will have the opportunity to review the proposed team and identify any conflicts of interest before the team roster is finalized.
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. The site team members are guests of the college and are there to assist the college in meeting its mission and goals.
There is no place in accreditation for adversarial interactions. The college and the COE site teams 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 teams 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.
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 for 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 staff;
- Remain open-minded throughout the evaluation process;
- Carefully study the materials contained in the college self-study to acquire a detailed understanding of the college and its operation;
- Be prepared for at least four and a half days of intensive 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; and
- Tell "war stories" about experiences on other visits.
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 forwarded to the Council on Education as a recommendation. The final decision on the status of each Standard and the accreditation status rests solely with the full COE.
It is AVMA-COE policy that official gifts will not be presented to the host institution. It is preferred that no gifts be presented, and this should be discouraged; however, it is not the intent to be discourteous. If a host institution wishes to provide a small gift to each team member that is of nominal monetary value, acceptance is allowed. Gifts offered to individuals (and not to all members of the site team) must be refused. 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.
2.3.7 Site visitor training
COE site visitors will be veterinarians or former COE public members who have undergone training to conduct site visits. Current COE members may not serve as COE site visitors.
Annually, the COE inducts and trains new site visitors. This training is delivered through a variety of modalities, and may include both digital, and face to face elements. Approximately two- and one-half-days are required to complete the required elements. Site visitors undertake annual refresher training on-line. Training must be updated annually to continue to serve as a site visitor.
Site team members are required to arrive at the college one-half day prior to the meetings with college officials. The site team chair and COE staff provide refresher training based on initial site team training. Further, prior to each site visit, the chair of the site visit team meets with all team members in executive session, to outline the plan for the visit, describe situations arising in the self-study which may require special attention, and reemphasize the specific assignments of each team member. This orientation session must be attended by all site team members.
2.3.8 Definition and role of COE observers
Council members who serve as COE observers participate in the site visit for quality assurance purposes. The observers ensure the site visit is conducted appropriately, and answer the site team's questions regarding procedures and protocol. The COE observers do not participate in interviews with the college faculty, staff, and students, and do not contribute to the site team's deliberations or report. Council observers may not vote at the site visit. Current COE members serving as COE observers may answer questions about the site visit, but do not participate in the COE deliberation or vote about the accreditation status of the institution visited.
Veterinarians or professional educators serving in a leadership role in a veterinary accrediting body with which the AVMA has established a working relationship may observe a COE site visit. The COE will determine when such a working relationship exists. The participation of the observers selected by the COE must be approved by the dean. These observers must be competent in spoken and written English, must abide by policies for site visit observers and participants, including confidentiality agreements, assume full liability for their personal safety, and must pay all their expenses for participation in the visit. No more than 4 observers, including COE and guest observers, may attend a site visit.
2.3.9 Site visit agenda
For a typical site visit schedule, please refer to Section 4.2.3 Appendix G - Model Site Visit Itinerary. Each college visited is different, so this schedule is to be used as a guide. During the site visit, each site team member must be satisfied that compliance with all Standards is thoroughly investigated and discussed and that results (deficiencies) are recorded. The chair of the site visit team will provide 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 that section of 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 unless instructed otherwise by the chair.
The tour of the facilities must include all areas where all of the students are required to gather for learning (required sites) and all areas where all students in a specific track are required to gather for learning (required track sites). The full site team should visit all required sites if practical, and either all of the site team or subcommittees of the site team may visit sites where not all students take classes, laboratories, and rotations. The list of off-campus sites to be visited by the site team is created according to guidelines given in Section 2.3.11 (Site Visits for Colleges Employing Off-campus Sites for Clinical Education).
The site team uses the meeting with various groups to validate information in the self-study report and to gather additional information relative to the Standards of Accreditation. While specific Standards are the area of focus at a given meeting, any Standard may be addressed at any meeting.
Goal of meeting
(for presentation to attendees before the site visit)
|Dean and selected administrators
||To confirm governance structure in the college including effectiveness and flexibility; to clarify data in finance tables and discuss factors impacting financial viability of the college
|Admissions Committee, Admission Officer, Outcome Officer(s)
||Admissions, Outcomes Assessment
||To clarify admissions processes as described in the Standard
|Curriculum Committee, Outcome Officer(s)
||Curriculum, Outcomes Assessment
||To clarify curriculum, verify processes for ongoing curricular review
||Students, Curriculum, Admissions, Organization, Physical Facilities and Equipment, Clinical Resources
||To gather from the students their impressions/concerns regarding all aspects of their experience in veterinary college
||To document the adequacy of the research program and how DVM student learning is impacted by the research program
|Post-graduate students, Interns and Residents
||Research, Students, Curriculum, Clinical Resources, Physical Facilities and Equipment
||To determine how post-graduate students and house officers interact with DVM students
||Faculty, Physical Facilities and Equipment, Clinical Resources
||To clarify faculty employment as described in the Standard, and to gather impressions/concerns regarding the educational program
|Confidential meetings with DVM students
|Confidential meetings with faculty
||To verify that career goals could be reached with the education provided by the college
||To determine coordination between faculty and administration and impact on the DVM students, faculty development process, adequacy of resources
|Section leaders in VTH, "center" leaders
||To determine coordination between faculty and administration and impact on the DVM students, faculty development process, and coverage of the veterinary curriculum
|Exit interview with dean
|Exit interview with university administration
||Curriculum, Students, Faculty, Clinical Resources
||To gather information from mid-level administrators about functionality of the DVM program as a whole
||How is information from outcomes transferred to the appropriate stakeholders – completing the loop
|Technical staff in teaching hospital
||Physical Facilities and Equipment, Faculty
||To verify working conditions in the hospital, staff and faculty support of the DVM program, role of paraprofessionals in training and assessment of students
||To question the librarian and library staff about factors beyond those captured during the tour, and to see demonstrations of specific technologies
Meetings with students are scheduled for each site visit; therefore, site visits are always scheduled during the academic year. The scheduled meeting with professional students should involve two or three representatives of each class, selected by their peers. The meeting with post-graduate students should include those students who interact with the DVM program either through teaching (usually laboratories or clinical rotations) or through formal research opportunities for DVM students. The meeting with house officers should include both interns and residents, with representation from all clinical departments.
The meeting with faculty representatives should involve >1 (two or three) faculty members from each department or administrative unit. These should be individuals, other than department heads (administration), chosen as spokespersons by the faculty of that department and should be representative of the department. Early, mid-career, and senior faculty should be included. The representatives meet as a group with the visiting team.
Alumni should reflect the career paths taken by the students. If a preponderance of students enter mixed animal practice upon graduation, for example, the alumni group should consist of a preponderance of mixed animal practitioners. The president of the alumni association and some alumni acting as adjunct faculty should be included if possible. Alumni who have hired recent graduates of the institution should be included.
The agenda for the visit is established by the chair of the site visit team in consultation with the college administration. The names and positions (titles) of all participants must be provided no less than 3 weeks prior to the site visit. The dean should not expect to attend meetings unless indicated on the agenda, or invited by the Chair. Meetings are organized to facilitate open discussion between the site team and the participants. Only faculty, staff, and students who have specific responsibilities and input for the topics being discussed are expected to attend tours and meetings. Individuals such as consultants or others who do not have responsibilities germane to the topics being discussed may not attend tours or meetings unless approved in advance by the site team chair and the COE chair.
The suggested site visit schedule is designed to address each Standard by meeting with groups that can provide the needed evidence of compliance. It is not necessary to visit with all faculty members. The dean should use the suggested site visit itinerary as a guide to develop a proposed site visit schedule with the site team chair. The chair should work with the dean and offer suggestions (additions/deletions) to better serve the site team.
2.3.10 Site visits outside the US and Canada
Site team members and staff are the guests of the host 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.
Air transportation in business class is allowed. Should a site team member 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. Tickets need to be purchased at least three weeks prior to departure and no later. The host institution is responsible for ground transportation to move the site team during the visit.
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 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.
2.3.11 Site visits for colleges employing off-campus sites for clinical education
The AVMA-COE recognizes that accredited colleges may wish to broaden learning opportunities for their students, which could include education in sites not a part of the college's central administrative campus. While educational experiences at such sites may be of high quality, and hence of substantial value to students, it is the college's responsibility to ensure that these experiences benefit the students' education, and to monitor the outcomes of such experiences. To assure ongoing compliance with the Accreditation Standards, programs must monitor all learning opportunities, including those in off-campus sites, in order to maintain overall quality and safety, and perform outcome assessment to inform curricular and programmatic changes. Colleges that use off-campus sites that are not college-owned for the majority of the clinical phase of students' training are considered to be offering a distributed model of education. Many colleges now offer educational experiences at off-campus sites. All colleges that use off-campus sites for required educational experiences for any portion of the clinical phase of education must follow the guidelines in Section 2.3.12. Colleges that use other accredited colleges for the entire clinical year must follow the guidelines listed in 2.3.13.
Required sites are those identified by the school where specific discipline requirements can be met. Elective sites are chosen by the students themselves to fulfill non-specific credit hour requirements. These are described below.
If students participate at an off-campus site for a required part of their education this is considered a "required" site, regardless of whether the school employs a traditional or distributive teaching model. Off-campus sites are considered required by the COE if they serve an educational requirement that all students must fulfill, or that all students in a specific track must fulfill. For example, the college identifies, approves, and oversees 7 practices where students can take Large Animal Medicine. All 7 sites are considered required sites and must be inspected during a site visit. Required sites must be visited by all or part of the site team, irrespective of the number of students per year who receive instruction at that site. The site should be visited whether the facility is administratively affiliated with the college or not. The following also should be described for these sites:
- The identification of professional staff providing education who might not be employees of the degree granting institution, but who are receiving remuneration as an independent contractor for time/effort devoted to the educational program.
- The off-campus site must be reviewed to ensure that the educational program is being delivered according to contemporary standards of practice and safety.
- There must be a written description of the educational objectives expected to be achieved at the site, and a mechanism for assessing the outcomes of the educational process, i.e., proof that educational objectives are being met.
Elective sites are defined as those that provide off-campus educational experiences that are chosen by individual students and attended sporadically to augment their education, and do not fulfill a requirement as defined above. Elective sites are not subject to the required site guidelines listed above. These sites must be visited if 20 percent or more of the students over any 2-year period since the last site visit received instruction at that site, and these sites would then be subject to the required site guidelines listed above. Exceptions may be granted if, for example, the off-campus site is a clinical rotation at another accredited college, or the site has been visited by another COE site team within the previous 7 years.
2.3.12 Requirements for colleges utilizing off-campus sites for required rotations (Section 4.2.4 Appendix H – Off-Campus COE Information Prior to Site Visit & Off-Campus Facility Inspection Guide)
An off-campus required rotation is defined in 2.3.11. The requirements below pertain to off-campus sites for required rotations that are apart from the central administrative campus of an accredited college of veterinary medicine.
- Off-campus required rotation sites must be selected on the basis of specific criteria and identified for instruction in precise disciplines (defined by the college) such as, but not limited to: Food Animal/Equine/Small Animal Medicine; Food Animal/Equine/Small Animal Surgery or Food Animal or Equine or Small Animal Medicine and Surgery; Dermatology; Imaging (radiology, etc.); Neurology; Cardiology; Critical Care Emergency Medicine; or other clinical specialties.
- Off-campus sites that are used for required rotations are expected to host one or more students from COE accredited colleges at a time for no less than half the calendar year annually. If that expectation cannot be met for an off-campus site, yet the college wishes to continue to send students to that site for required rotations, the college must explain its reasons for doing so, to include how the college documents a high-quality learning experience for students hosted at that site.
- The college must designate to the COE a list of all off-campus sites that provide required rotations as defined in 2.3.11. The list must be in a format specified by the COE. All sites must be in compliance with the relevant AVMA COE Standards.
- All off-campus required rotation sites must be visited by COE trained site visitors. Inspections may take place at any time. Inspections associated with a comprehensive or focused site visit must occur within 3 months prior to or at the time of a comprehensive or focused site visit (see below). Exceptions to this time limit can be made by the site team chair. Site visits will include, but are not limited to, verification of compliance of the site with relevant AVMA COE standards and adherence to the requirements outlined in this section (2.3.12). These inspections, including travel and per diem costs, will be at the expense of the college.
- The college must prepare and execute formal written contracts with the clinical sites selected to serve as off-campus required rotations that detail the educational goals of the college and expectations for delivery of supervised student clinical instruction. The clinical sites that provide required rotations must invest sufficient resources to meet the educational goals of the college, and to meet all the relevant COE Accreditation Standards.
- The college must prepare materials that explain educational objectives and anticipated outcomes of each required rotation. These materials must be distributed to, and clearly understood by the clinical site coordinators, the veterinarians, and the staff who teach students, as well as the students attending the rotations.
- The college must put in place a system to regularly monitor and supervise the instructional activities at each off-campus required rotation site and report this system with any subsequent changes and outcomes to the COE.
- The college must prepare and distribute appropriate materials for off-campus required rotations that detail expectations of the clinical site coordinators. These must include plans for clinical site educator training, and instructions concerning the format the college wants site educators to use when evaluating student performance and providing feedback to students on progress/deficiencies associated with the site experience.
- All veterinarian(s) supervising and teaching students at off-campus sites where required rotations are offered must have training from the college in teaching and evaluating the college's students, and must be actively engaged in the college's educational program. The veterinarians teaching required rotations at off-campus sites must participate annually in at least one educational program provided by the college. The program should align with the educational objectives relevant to the clinical year(s) of participant students and must include training that addresses student safety and culturally responsive education.
- The college must put in place a system to measure and document clinical competencies outcomes at off-campus required rotation sites. The college must document the achievement of clinical competencies for all students, facilitate remediation for individual students in a timely manner as appropriate, and at least annually analyze data by cohort. Conclusions from such analysis must be shared with appropriate college committees and personnel to inform curricular and programmatic change.
- The college must document/assess that students and educators clearly understand how evaluation and grading practices will be conducted at each off-campus required site, including measuring and documenting clinical competencies.
- Each off-campus required rotation site educator must abide by a process devised by the college to provide a written evaluation of the performance of each student. This includes documenting the demonstration of the clinical competencies, as appropriate for that rotation.
- Students must provide the college with an evaluation of each site after the respective rotation is completed, including an evaluation of teaching at the site and the student's opportunity to perform hands-on procedures at the site. The college must summarize this information for the COE.
- The college must provide to the students and off-campus required rotation educators the expectations the college has for the sites to take steps to guard the safety and security of students participating in the required rotations.
- The college must document that students participating in off-campus required rotations are fully informed and able to report to the college all concerns that relate to their physical and/or emotional safety and security.
- All veterinarians who act as educators at off-campus required rotation sites must be licensed and technicians at these sites should be certified, licensed, or registered as appropriate to the jurisdiction.
The main site visit pertains to tours and meetings conducted at the college's central administrative campus. The entire main site visit must be planned to take no more than 7 consecutive days.
Site visits for off-campus facilities apart from the central administrative campus that provide required clinical rotations for any number of students must adhere to the following inspection guidelines. In addition, elective rotations that have been attended by 20% or more students over a 2-year period since the last site visit, must also adhere to these inspection guidelines.
- All off-campus facilities used by a college for required rotations must be inspected by COE-trained site visitors no more than 3 months prior to the main site visit, unless (1) the facility has been inspected within the last 7 years as part of another COE site visit, and (2) there have been no major changes to the site in the interim. The final decision as to whether an off-campus facility will be visited will be made by the site visit chair. The site visitors conducting these visits may or may not be the same visitors conducting the main site visit. A facility inspection report of each of the off-campus sites visited before the main site visit will be submitted to the site visit team prior to the main site visit.
- The off-campus site visits should take no more than 9 hours total per day, including travel and meals. The college will decide, based on the number and locations of sites to be seen, how the time is divided between actual site visit time and travel time.
- Individual, off-campus visits to practices/facilities with 3 or less supervising veterinarians must allow no less than 1.5 hrs. Larger practices/facilities must allow no less than 2 hrs.
- The main site visit team (or a portion thereof) may conduct interviews of supervisory veterinarians at off-campus sites that were visited, and of students who attended those sites, during or prior to the main site visit. These interviews can be conducted in-person or virtually.
2.3.13. Colleges that send final-year students to other accredited schools for the entire clinical year
Colleges that send final-year students to other accredited colleges (affiliate schools) for the entire clinical year must arrange for the site visit team to interview administrators from affiliate schools during the site visit. The number of affiliate schools to be interviewed will be determined by the site visit chair. The college must provide thorough information on the number of students attending each affiliate school since the last site visit. The degree-granting college is expected to stay in communication with affiliate schools throughout the clinical year, and the degree-granting college must assume the responsibility for timely, thorough data collection and analysis for outcomes assessment and clinical competency achievement. The college must work with the affiliate schools to ensure remediation in a timely fashion when it is detected that a student is struggling with one or more clinical competency. The college must collate the outcomes assessment and clinical competency data from all affiliate schools at least annually, and share this data with appropriate college committees and personnel to inform curricular and programmatic change.
2.3.14 Guidelines for review of isolation facilities
There are many ways for colleges to teach students appropriate biosecurity procedures and protocols. The following guidelines are offered to assist site teams in evaluating different methods, and in judging compliance with contemporary theory and practice of biosecurity.
- It is possible for colleges of veterinary medicine to meet Standard 3, Physical Facilities and Equipment, with a wide range of isolation facilities.
- Other Standards are also involved: Standard 9, Curriculum (patient management and care including intensive care, emergency medicine and isolation procedures) and Standard 11, Outcomes Assessment (clinical competencies – health promotion, disease prevention/biosecurity, zoonosis, and food safety).
- The top priority is to educate students on infection control in a safe environment; students must understand the principles and characteristics of an ideal isolation facility.
- It may be possible to mitigate physical facility limitations through the use of effective procedures; emphasis will be placed on implementation of an effective program:
- Infection control plan must be appropriate for caseload and effectively mitigate facility deficits.
- Faculty, students, and staff must have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the infection control plan.
- Evidence of program effectiveness must be available, for example, nosocomial infection rate, results and analysis of microbial surveillance.
Isolation Facilities – "Ideal" General Characteristics:
- Separation from high traffic areas and other animals which might be infected
- Single purpose use
- Equipment and materials dedicated to this area
- Negative pressure air flow
- Ante room
- Easily cleaned and disinfected surfaces
- Ensure personnel follow infection control policies related to personal hygiene, patient care, and disinfection of equipment facilities
- Include method(s) to identify potentially infectious diseases upon entry to the hospital
- Address various types of infectious diseases
- Respiratory – viral
- G.I. – viral, bacterial, parasitic
- Zoonotic diseases
- Include workflow and traffic patterns to reduce risk of cross contamination
- Include disposal procedures for potentially infective material, bedding, and animals to limit the potential for cross contamination
- Include appropriate surveillance methods to ensure procedures are effective
Questions for the Site Team to Explore:
- How often are patients placed in isolation in comparison to the total case load?
- Do clinicians and students apply risk assessment to all patients admitted to the facility– such as risk of spreading disease, zoonotic potential, increased risk of some types of patients in the facility (immunocompromised, young, non-vaccinated animals, etc.)
- Does the facility have a method/system to track disease transmission?
- Does the facility monitor or track potential antimicrobial resistance in their patients?
- Is there a method/procedure to segregate or not admit animals suspected of a specific infectious disease such as:
- Canine parvovirus, or other types of viral diseases
- Feline upper respiratory disease
- Neonatal ruminants with cryptosporidiosis
- Any animal with Salmonella
- Does the facility have a biosecurity report that is shared with faculty, students, and staff?
- Is there an active educational process to inform all members of the facility on issues of biosecurity?
- Are there easily accessible and understood procedures for infectious disease control and is there evidence that the procedures are effective?
- Are surveillance results used to evaluate program effectiveness?
2.3.15 Guidelines for review of necropsy facilities and procedures
- It is possible for colleges of veterinary medicine to meet Standard 3, Physical Facilities and Equipment, with a wide range of necropsy facilities. The top priority is to educate students on the following principles:
- Because the etiology of the animals' disease process may not be clear until the necropsy is performed, necropsy procedures should be considered high risk, with potential for infection of animals and humans by a variety of routes, including via aerosol.
- Students must understand the principles and characteristics of an ideal necropsy facility.
- Other Standards are also involved: Standard 9, Curriculum - The instruction must include principles and hands-on experiences in physical and laboratory diagnostic methods and interpretation (including diagnostic imaging, diagnostic pathology, and necropsy), and Standard 11, Outcomes - understanding of health promotion, and biosecurity, prevention and control of disease including zoonoses and principles of food safety.
Necropsy Facilities – "Ideal" General Characteristics:
- Separation from high traffic areas and other patients
- Single-purpose use
- Equipment and materials dedicated to this area
- Negative pressure air flow
- Easily cleaned and disinfected surfaces
Posted procedures regarding personal protective equipment and hygiene requirements, workflow and traffic patterns that reduce risk of cross contamination, and disposal procedures for potentially infective animal tissue. It may be possible to mitigate physical facility limitations through the use of effective procedures that ensure animal and human safety. Such procedures must be fully described and enforced as standard, written protocol.
Questions for the Site Team to Explore:
- How many cases per year, by species, are students directly involved with performing necropsies?
- Do clinicians and students apply risk assessment to all necropsy cases – such as risk of spreading disease, zoonotic potential, increased risk of some types of patients (e.g., species known to be common carriers of zoonotic diseases, etc.)
- Does the facility have a method/system to track the frequency of zoonotic disease transmission to staff and students?
- Are zoonotic disease transmission data used to evaluate the effectiveness of biosecurity protocols?
- Does the facility have written protocols for handling necropsy cases suspected of carrying zoonotic diseases?
2.4 Report of evaluation
2.4.1 Developing the report of evaluation and using the site-visit rubric
Each evening during the site visit the team meets and reviews the day's activities. All members of the site team attend the evening meetings. 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. 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 endeavors. 4) Deficiencies and Directives: This section is used to report the compliance of a college with each Standard and to provide directives to correct each deficiency. 5) Suggestions: This section contains suggestions intended to assist the college in improving its educational program and carry no adverse consequences.
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. The site team should strive to reach consensus on the strengths, directives, and recommendations for each college.
The final draft report of the site visit team is the responsibility of the team chair. Drafts of report sections previously assigned to individual members of the team are submitted to the chair. The entire team votes on each Standard and the entire report. The report will follow the rubric for the type of site visit conducted. The report indicates in what ways the college complies or does not comply with the Standard requirements. Strengths (Commendations), as well as weaknesses are noted. Directives are written with enough detail to be helpful to team members on subsequent site visits, as well as to the current college administration, but are not intended to be prescriptive. Directives are a part of the report of evaluation. Suggestions for program improvement may be included. Deficiencies in the compliance with any Standard results in an accreditation status other than Accredited, and are clearly noted in the report of evaluation. On the last evening of the visit, development of the draft report is completed and recommendations agreed upon. Each directive must be based on a deficiency described in commentary under the appropriate section of the affected Standard.
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 or her 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. Other team members should not speak until the exit remarks have been made by the chair, 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.
Copies of the final draft are sent by AVMA staff to the dean of the college within 45 days of the visit for correction of factual errors. The chair will review the comments made by the dean, and may modify the report in consultation with the team. The final draft, together with any comments by the dean or the university president, is presented to the Council by a COE reviewer assigned to the college at the next semi-annual Council meeting.
Within 90 days of delivering the final Report of Evaluation, the COE will request that the dean of the college provide written comments on outcome(s) of the accreditation process. Specifically, he/she will provide comments regarding the impact of the recommendations on 1) the education and educational process of the DVM students, 2) student outcomes, 3) program finances, 4) the university, 5) the state legislative process (where appropriate), and 6) other (to be defined by the dean). This report will be used by the Council to determine if the recommendations are clearly understood; and to determine the impact of the recommendations on the college/university/state.
2.5 Council review and decision
2.5.1 Presentation and deliberation
The full Council utilizes the self-study, site visit findings, the Report of Evaluation, and other relevant information to determine the appropriateness of granting Reasonable Assurance, Provisional Accreditation, Accredited, Accredited with Minor Deficiencies, Probationary Accreditation, or Terminal Accreditation status. Decisions on accreditation or reasonable assurance evaluations for site visits that occurred less than 90 days prior to the next scheduled COE meeting will usually be deferred to the following meeting. The COE meets in person twice annually. Accreditation decisions will, except in rare and unusual circumstances, be limited to these two meetings. Accreditation decisions are made by the full Council only, not by the Executive Committee.
The self-study and supporting documentation furnished by the college, the draft report of evaluation and supplementary documents, the dean's response to the report, and any other relevant and appropriate information from other sources that can help determine whether the college complies with the Standards are made available to the Council prior to the COE meeting. Council members review the information for each college being considered for accreditation, and discuss the findings of the site team and/or seek additional information necessary to evaluate that college.
A Council member who has a conflict of interest with the college under consideration recuses themselves during discussion and voting that leads to accreditation actions. Two COE members are assigned as primary and secondary reviewers to conduct a pre-site visit review of the self-study and a post site visit review of the draft report of evaluation. The COE reviewers present the report of evaluation to the Council for deliberation and decision on compliance with each Standard and on the college's accreditation status.
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 directive for each deficiency under the Directives section for the affected Standard(s). Notation is made in the Suggestions section of the final report of evaluation when specific deficiencies are not identified, but the Council wishes to provide suggestions for improvement of the educational program.
An adverse accreditation action is defined as withholding initial or renewed accreditation, administrative withdrawal of accreditation, denial of a reasonable assurance status, or assignment of terminal accreditation. When the Council notes deficiencies that 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. 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 submit its response to the Council within thirty (30) days after receipt of the draft report of evaluation.
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 the following conditions are met:
- The financial information was unavailable to the college until after the Council made the adverse findings regarding the college's finances; and
- 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, could result in the finding that Standard 2, Finances, is now met; and
- 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 submitted 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 (if appropriate), 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 directives and 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, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). The officials of the college and the institution are authorized to disseminate all or part of the content of the report at their discretion. An institution must publicly disclose its accreditation 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 60173 (phone 847-925-8070). Any incorrect or misleading information regarding pre-accreditation or accreditation released by the institution will be corrected by the COE. These corrections include, but are not limited to, 1) the accreditation or pre-accreditation status, 2) content of reports of on-site visits, and 3) the accreditation or pre-accreditation action by the COE with respect to the program. The content of the report is not available from AVMA, CVMA, RCVS, Council members, or the site visit team. Except under the conditions cited above, the self-study, all correspondence, directives, 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 COE 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.
The Council thoroughly reviews annual interim reports from colleges. Based on the annual interim report and other information relevant to the colleges' compliance with the Standards, the Council determines any subsequent action it shall take. The Council may request a report of additional progress and/or communication with an institutional representative. Focused site visits are conducted at an institution when it is necessary for the Council to review information about the program than can be obtained or documented only on site, or when items have not been adequately addressed in the annual interim report, and the COE deems a site visit necessary to determine compliance with the Standards. A special site visit may be focused (limited to specific standards), or comprehensive.
A focused site visit may be conducted during the interim between self-studies and comprehensive site visits in response to:
- Questions or inconsistencies noted in the annual interim report.
- Noted deficiencies in one or more Standards identified at the time of the most recent complete site visit wherein the college informs the Council that such deficiencies have been addressed, and verification is necessary for continued accreditation.
- Confirmed information (evidence) received from third party (public, student, faculty, or others) concerning noncompliance with a Standard requirement.
The focused site visit team shall:
- Consist of three COE site visitors, with at least one who served on the site visit team that made the accreditation recommendation, and one Canadian representative. The team will be appointed by the COE Chair with the concurrence of the Chair of the Committee on Evaluation. COE staff may accompany the team.
- Establish a date for the visit which is agreeable to all parties.
- Address those Standards found deficient or noncompliant during the original visit, from interim reports, or from other information.
- Prepare a report describing whether and how the deficiencies in the Standard(s) have been corrected, any other findings made during the visit, and make a recommendation to the COE regarding the accreditation status of the college.
Based upon the outcomes of the focused site visit, the COE could take any of the following actions:
- No change in status.
- Extension of accreditation for the full time allowed.
- A change in the accreditation status.
- A comprehensive site visit.
2.5.2 Administrative withdrawal of accreditation
Accreditation may be withdrawn from a college under the following circumstances:
- A college that is delinquent in payment of fees, according to Council policies and procedures, is not eligible for review, and shall be notified by express mail (signature required) of the effective date of Administrative Withdrawal of accreditation. On that date, the college shall be removed from the Council's list of accredited colleges. Administrative withdrawal for delinquency in payment of fees may not be appealed.
- A college may be deemed to have withdrawn from the voluntary process of accreditation if it does not comply with the following actions and procedures:
- undergo a site visit;
- follow one or more Council directives;
- supply the Council with requested information;
- maintain current data in the Council's online data system;
Or if the college
- makes misrepresentations or engages in misleading conduct in connection with consideration of the College's status by the Council, or in public statements concerning the College's approval status;
- initiates a substantive change or implements a new program without having obtained the prior approval or acquiescence required by the Standards; or
- provides incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information to the Council.
Under the above circumstances, the Council may administratively withdraw accreditation. A status of Administrative Withdrawal for reasons other than non-payment of fees may be appealed in accordance with section 2.5.4 Appeals Procedures for Adverse Outcomes. If accreditation is withdrawn, the college must follow the same procedures required of colleges with Terminal Accreditation in order to protect the interests of enrolled students, as described in Section 3.2.7 Terminal Accreditation.
If a college reapplies for Accreditation within two years after the effective date of Administrative Withdrawal, the accreditation history of the college will be considered. The college shall include with the new application a statement addressing each existing citation and issue(s) leading to the Administrative Withdrawal. A site visit may be required for re-applications after Administrative Withdrawal of accreditation.
2.5.3 Adverse decisions
An adverse decision on accreditation or reasonable assurance is defined by the COE as withholding initial or renewed accreditation, administrative withdrawal of accreditation, denial of reasonable assurance, or assignment of terminal accreditation. The Council is aware of the consequences of loss of accreditation or denial of reasonable assurance status, and considers these matters seriously.
The COE will not renew accreditation or award provisional or initial accreditation for any college where the institution offering the program is subject to:
- A pending or final action brought by a State agency to suspend, revoke, withdraw, or terminate the institution's legal authority to provide postsecondary education in the State;
- A decision by a recognized agency to deny accreditation or pre-accreditation;
- A pending or final action brought by a recognized accrediting agency to suspend, revoke, withdraw, or terminate the institution's accreditation or pre-accreditation.
The COE will consider granting accreditation (renewal or initial) or pre-accreditation (provisional) where the institution offering the program is subject to probation or an equivalent status imposed by a recognized agency. Within 30 days, the Council will provide the USDE with a thorough and reasonable explanation, consistent with COE Standards, why the action of the other body does not preclude the awarding accreditation or pre-accreditation, if accreditation or pre-accreditation is awarded. The decision to award accreditation or pre-accreditation will be based on a thorough review of the evidence. The Standards will be applied consistently as described for all accreditation decisions to determine compliance. However, special attention will be paid to the reasons for institutional probation and the potential impact on compliance with each Standard, including sustainability.
A college may request a reevaluation at any time for reasons of reclassification. The request should justify the reasons for requesting a different classification. A current self-evaluation, or an updated report of a self-evaluation less than two years old, must be submitted approximately eight (8) weeks before the date of a site visit. The report should indicate the changes that have occurred since the previous evaluation with particular reference to the recommendations previously made. When there appears to be reasonable probability that the classification can be changed, the Council will make every effort to implement a new evaluation, but in no case less than one year after a previous evaluation (the meeting at which the Council made the relevant decision).
2.5.4 Appeals procedures for adverse outcomes
An adverse accreditation decision is defined as withholding initial or withdrawing accreditation, administrative withdrawal of accreditation, denial of a reasonable assurance, or assignment of terminal accreditation. When an adverse accreditation decision is made by the Council, the college is informed in writing of the decision and the reasons for such decision, and reminded of the right to appeal. The effective date of an adverse decision shall be no earlier than the expiration of the time provided to notify of an intent to appeal, or when an adverse decision is affirmed on appeal.
In the event of an adverse decision by the COE, the affected college may appeal the decision on the grounds that the Council: 1) ruled erroneously by disregarding established AVMA COE criteria for accreditation, 2) materially failed to follow its stated procedures, or 3) failed to consider all the evidence and documentation presented. No other grounds for appeal will be allowed. When a college appeals an adverse decision, the following procedures will apply:
Not later than 30 calendar days after receipt of notification (registered mail, return receipt requested) of an adverse decision, the college shall notify the AVMA Board of Directors in writing, through the Executive Vice President, that it intends to appeal the decision. No later than 60 calendar days after the date of notification of the adverse decision, the college shall submit documentation supporting its appeal and a $10,000 nonrefundable fee.
The AVMA Board of Directors shall appoint a hearing panel comprised of seven persons, none of whom shall be current members of the Council on Education or AVMA staff. The hearing panel will include veterinary educators and practitioners, and one public member who have completed service on the Council within the last seven years (one accreditation cycle). Panel members will receive specific training to review all changes made in the COE policies and procedures since their service on the Council, so that panel members have the requisite knowledge and understanding to make decisions consistent with the policies and requirements of the Council on Education. The Board of Directors shall designate the chair of the panel. Hearing panel members are required to sign a Conflict of Interest Statement.
A hearing shall be held at or near the AVMA office in Schaumburg, Illinois not more than 120 calendar days following receipt by AVMA of the documentation supporting the college's appeal. A hearing via video conference will be considered, if requested by the college, or if the hearing panel determines that an in-person hearing is not advisable. The Executive Vice President will schedule and organize the hearing and notify the hearing panel, the college, and the members of the Council on Education by mail not less than 10 or more than 40 calendar days prior to the date of the hearing. The notification will include the date, time and place for the hearing, as well as a list of the members of the hearing panel.
At any hearing, an officer or other representative of the appellant college and a member of the Council on Education shall have the right to present witnesses and to submit documents and other written materials pertinent to the case. The appellant college and the Council may be represented by legal counsel who may make the presentation on behalf of the appellant college and the Council, respectively. The appellant college shall be responsible for all fees and expenses related to its legal counsel. The hearing panel may also have legal counsel present to advise it with respect to procedural matters. Following presentations by the appellant college and the Council, the hearing panel will allow opportunity for response and rebuttal by the appellant college. Before permitting testimony relating to the character or general reputation of anyone, the panel shall satisfy itself that the testimony has a direct bearing on the case at issue.
The hearing shall be restricted to (1) the adverse accreditation or reasonable assurance decision, (2) a review of information before the Council at the time of the decision, (3) a review of the process and procedure used to arrive at the decision, and (4) testimony relevant to (1), (2) and/or (3), depending on the basis of the appeal. Documentation may include extracts from the college's self-study, with appendices or attachments, and from the report of evaluation of the site visit team. All documentation and testimony shall be relevant to conditions existing at the college during the dates on which the site visit was made or on which the adverse decision was based.
The hearing panel may either affirm or amend an adverse decision, or remand the adverse decision to the Council for further consideration. If the hearing panel amends the Council's decision, the hearing panel will remand the matter to the Council with specific instructions to implement the hearing panel's decision. If the hearing panel remands an adverse action for further consideration by the Council, the hearing panel shall identify specific issues that the Council must address. In all cases where a decision is implemented by or remanded to the Council, the Council shall act in a manner consistent with the hearing panel's decision and instructions. The conclusion of the panel shall be produced in the form of a written report and become a permanent record of the Council on Education. The chief executive officers of the college and the university will be provided with copies of the hearing panel report. The panel report will be confidential to the Council. All questions will be referred to the college which may respond as deemed appropriate.
An appeal is not a de novo hearing, but a challenge of the Council's decision based on the evidence before the Council at the time of its decision. The Council's decision should not be reversed by the appeal panel without sufficient evidence that the Council's decision was plainly wrong or without evidence to support it. Accordingly, the appeal panel should not substitute its judgment for that of the Council merely because it would have reached a different decision had it heard the matter originally.
The accreditation status of the petitioning college shall remain unchanged during the review; there shall be no public notice of the adverse decision until the review is complete and a final decision rendered. The fact the college has filed an appeal will, however, be a matter of public record.
At the discretion of the hearing panel or upon advance request in writing by either the petitioning college or the Council, a transcript of the proceedings may be made. The transcript will be shared by all parties.
The report of the hearing panel will be considered at the next regular meeting of the Council on Education. The Council must act in a manner consistent with the hearing panel's decision and instructions. All deliberations of the Council and the factors considered prior to the final decision shall be confidential to the Council. The appealing college will be notified in writing of the final accreditation status assigned by the COE.
If the decision by the COE is upheld, the appellant will be responsible for all expenses associated with the appeal. If the decision by the COE is reversed in its entirety, the appellant will be responsible for all expenses associated with transportation, food, and lodging for the college representatives; legal fees associated with college representation; and any other expenses incurred by the college in making the appeal. All other costs associated with the hearing including, but not limited to, panel and COE transportation, lodging, and food; legal counsel for the panel and/or the COE; conference telephone calls; mailings; meeting facilities; and a transcript of the proceedings will be shared equally by the college and the AVMA.
After the opportunities to respond in writing or appeal have passed, or the appeal processes have been completed and the decision confirmed, the action of the Council is considered final. Should the college apply for a letter of reasonable assurance or accreditation consideration in the future, the accreditation process will begin anew. Documents associated with an adverse action (the self-study report, the report of evaluation, and all appeal documents) will not be shared with future site visit teams.
2.5.5 Reconsideration of accreditation classification
The Council may reconsider and alter the classification of a college when in the Council's judgment:
- Conditions affecting compliance with one or more Standards have deteriorated sufficiently so that the college fails to meet one or more of the Standard requirements.
- A previously identified deficiency has worsened and causes the college to fail to meet one or more of the Standard requirements.
- A college or its parent university fails to respond in a timely and satisfactory way to the reasonable requests of the Council for information, or fails to cooperate in the evaluation process.
2.5.6 Loss of legal authority to provide postsecondary education
If the COE learns that a college it accredits or pre-accredits, or an institution that offers a program it accredits or pre-accredits, is the subject of an adverse action by another recognized accrediting agency or has been placed on probation or an equivalent status by another recognized agency, the COE will promptly review the accreditation or pre-accreditation of the college to determine if it should also take adverse action or place the program on probation or show cause.
The COE will share information about the accreditation or pre-accreditation status of a program and any adverse actions it has taken against an accredited or pre-accredited program upon request from other appropriate recognized accrediting agencies and recognized State approval agencies.
2.5.7 Loss of institutional accreditation
The Council will withdraw the accreditation of a college that has lost its institutional accreditation. The Council will notify the Secretary of Education within 30 days of the action to revoke accreditation. Further, the Council will notify the appropriate postsecondary institutional accrediting body and the public no later than 24 hours following the withdrawal of accreditation or after any appeal has been resolved. The Council will not consider evaluating a college that has lost its institutional accreditation.
2.5.8 Decisions of other accrediting agencies
The COE monitors programs throughout the accreditation cycle via annual reports, third party comment, and site visits. The Council will respond to any program not meeting the Standards. Conditions could exist within an institution where compliance with a Standard of Accreditation or reasonable assurance may change to noncompliance due to action of another agency. If any of the following conditions are confirmed, the Council will notify the institution in writing, within 30 days of confirmation, that accreditation will not be renewed based upon an unfavorable outcome wherein:
- An institution is subject to an interim action by a recognized institutional accrediting agency that could lead to suspension, revocation, or termination of accreditation or reasonable assurance.
- An institution is subject to an interim action by a recognized agency that could lead to suspension, revocation, or termination of accreditation or reasonable assurance.
- An institution has been notified of a threatened loss of accreditation and due process procedure is not complete.
- An institution has been notified of a threatened suspension, revocation, or termination of the institution's legal authority to provide postsecondary education and the due process procedure is not complete.
As noted in section 2.5.3, the COE will consider granting accreditation (renewal or initial) or pre-accreditation where the institution offering the program is subject to probation or an equivalent status imposed by a recognized agency. Within 30 days, the Council will provide the USDE with a thorough and reasonable explanation, consistent with COE Standards, why the action of the other body does not preclude the awarding accreditation or pre-accreditation, if accreditation or pre-accreditation is awarded. The decision to award accreditation or pre-accreditation will be based on a thorough review of the evidence. The Standards will be applied consistently as described for all accreditation decisions to determine compliance. However, special attention will be paid to the reasons for institutional probation and the potential impact on compliance with each Standard, including sustainability.
2.5.9 Policies on reporting accreditation decisions to the USDE
An updated listing of accredited colleges of veterinary medicine, noting those institutions wherein an adverse action has been taken or those that have voluntarily withdrawn from the accreditation process, will be submitted to the Secretary of the Department of Education within 30 days of the decision. Additionally, a listing of colleges and the accreditation status of each is submitted annually. The COE will notify the Department of Education within 30 days regarding the following:
- A list of the accreditation and reasonable assurance decisions made.
- A decision by the COE to award provisional accreditation or reasonable assurance to a newly formed college.
- A final decision by the COE to deny, withdraw, suspend, or terminate the accreditation or provisional accreditation of a college; or to take other adverse action against a college.1
- A decision by the COE to place a college on probationary accreditation. Within 24 hours of notification of the program, the COE will notify the public of its decision via the AVMA web site.
- A decision by an accredited college to withdraw voluntarily from accreditation or provisional accreditation.
- A decision by an accredited college to let its accreditation or provisional accreditation lapse.
1 When an adverse action is taken by the Council, the USDE, the appropriate State licensing or authorizing agency, and the appropriate accrediting agencies will be notified at the same time as the program but no later than 30 days following the action.
If the Secretary requests additional information on a pre-accredited or accredited program, the COE will respond in a timely manner. The COE will forward a copy of its annual data noting major accrediting activities during the previous year, if so requested by the USDE. The COE does not currently prepare an annual report of its accreditation activities. However, if such a report is developed at a future date, the document will be forwarded to the USDE on an annual basis. If the COE believes a college is failing to meet its Title IV, Higher Education Authority responsibilities or is engaged in fraud or abuse related to such responsibilities, a report will be submitted to the USDE.
The Secretary will be provided with information regarding any proposed change that will alter the COE's scope of recognition or compliance. Within 60 days of a final decision regarding accreditation or reasonable assurance status, the COE will make available to the Department of Education, appropriate state postsecondary education review entities; and to the public upon request, a brief statement summarizing the reasons for the final decision to deny, withdraw, suspend, or terminate accreditation or provisional accreditation of a college, and the comments the college may wish to make with regard to the decision.
* When an adverse action is taken by the Council, the USDE, the appropriate State licensing or authorizing agency, and the appropriate accrediting agencies will be notified at the same time as the program but no later than 30 days following the action.