ECFVG Policies and Procedures - Overview of the ECFVG Certification Program

November 2020

An ECFVG certificate may be accepted by state veterinary medical licensing agencies as fulfilling the educational prerequisite, either in full or in part, for state licensure eligibility. The majority of states require graduates of veterinary schools not accredited by the AVMA COE® to hold an ECFVG certificate. However, because licensing requirements can change, the ECFVG and AVMA urge all veterinarians to contact the licensing agency in the state in which they wish to become licensed to determine current requirements, including educational prerequisites.

The ECFVG certification program comprises 4 steps, each one designed to build from the previous. The purpose of the first step is to confirm an applicant's veterinary college credentials. The second step is designed to assess a candidate's English language ability. The purpose of the third step is to assess a candidate's basic and clinical veterinary science knowledge, whereas the purpose of the fourth and final step is to assess a candidate's hands-on clinical veterinary medical skills.

In addition, candidates who enroll into the ECFVG program on or after July 1, 2014, must submit validated Surgical Experience Documentation forms as proof of having performed, in the five-year period prior to date of CPE application, at least one (1) ovariohysterectomy as the primary surgeon and at least five (5) additional surgical procedures as either the primary or the assistant surgeon. The 5 additional procedures may be ovariohysterectomies or other surgical procedures, but each documented surgery should involve all elements of an aseptic surgical procedure, including gowning & gloving, draping of the patient, and use of sterile instrumentation. Validation of surgery experience can be provided by one or more veterinarians licensed to practice veterinary medicine in any international jurisdiction. Please note that, candidates who enrolled into the ECFVG program on or after July 1, 2014, will be eligible to register for the full CPE only when the required documentation is received in its entirety in the ECFVG office and processed by ECFVG staff. The ECFVG reserves the right to verify the documents received. Candidates are reminded that falsification of documents would be a violation of the Rules of Conduct and can resolve in disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal from the program. Candidates who successfully fulfill this eligibility requirement will be notified of their Step 4 eligibility by e-mail and will be able to register and apply for CPE through ECFVG Online.

This CPE eligibility requirement does not apply to candidates enrolled in the ECFVG program prior to July 1, 2014. However, the ECFVG strongly recommends that all candidates have the experience described above prior to attempting the surgical section of the CPE.

The examinations used within the ECFVG certification program are rigorous. The program assesses educational equivalency of graduates of veterinary schools that are not accredited by the AVMA Council on Education (COE). Therefore, the program reflects veterinary educational and practice standards within the USA and Canada. All potential and current ECFVG candidates are encouraged to critically consider whether the veterinary education they received is sufficient to provide them with the necessary knowledge and skill level to perform well on the ECFVG Step 3 (Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination [BCSE]) and Step 4 (Clinical Proficiency Examination [CPE]) examinations. For example, to succeed in the surgery and anesthesia sections of the BCSE and CPE, candidates will need to not only have knowledge about performing surgery and anesthesia in small and large animals (for the BCSE), but they should also have experience performing small-animal surgery and anesthesia in an instructional or clinical setting prior to attempting the CPE.

Communication skills and service to clients are also a high priority in veterinary practice in the USA and Canada. Throughout the ECFVG program, candidates will be assessed on their ability to communicate clearly and effectively in English (or French in Canada). Lack of adequate entry-level communication skills in English (or French in Canada) will negatively impact a candidate’s performance in the ECFVG certification program.

An applicant who satisfactorily completes the following 4 steps (in order) will be awarded an ECFVG certificate:

  1. Provide proof (diploma and final transcripts) of graduation from an AVMA ECFVG®-listed college of veterinary medicine. The ECFVG will seek verification of the applicant's credentials by direct request to the college from which the individual claims graduation.
  2. Provide proof of comprehension and ability to communicate in the English language by attaining passing scores on the internet-based TOEFL (TOEFL-iBT®) as administered by Educational Testing Service of Princeton, NJ; OR the International English Language Testing System (IELTS™) as administered by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, the British Council, and IDE Education Australia; OR the Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL) as administered by Paragon Testing Enterprises, a subsidiary of The University of British Columbia, Canada. For candidates completing secondary school in the United States, United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), Australia, New Zealand, or Canada (except Quebec), the English language examinations may be waived, provided such candidates submit documentation attesting to at least three years full-time attendance at a secondary (high) school located in one of the above countries and at which the complete language of instruction was English or, for graduates of US high schools only, a certified, notarized, or official copy of the final transcript. A degree from a US college or university is not considered adequate proof of English language ability.
  3. All candidates who enroll in the ECFVG program on or after January 1, 2014, must pass the Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BCSE) to satisfy the requirements of Step 3 of the ECFVG program. Candidates will no longer be permitted to submit passing scores from the National Board Examination (NBE), Clinical Competency Test (CCT) and/or North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) to complete Step 3 of the ECFVG program. Those candidates who are enrolled in the ECFVG program prior to January 1, 2014, and have successfully completed the NAVLE during or prior to the April 2007 administration or the NBE and CCT prior to year 2000, can have those original score reports submitted directly from the Veterinary Information Verifying Agency (VIVA) of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) for completion of Step 3 of the ECFVG program.

  4. Attain a passing score on all sections of the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE) approved by the ECFVG.