Agreement opens doors to practice in Great Britain

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RCVS President Roger Eddy and AVMA president, Dr. James E. Nave

The AVMA and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons signed an agreement in November that makes graduates from AVMA-accredited colleges in the United States and Canada eligible for licensure in Great Britain.

Although the AVMA has a structure for foreign-trained veterinarians to become licensed in the United States, few countries have a system to license US-trained veterinarians wanting to practice abroad. This measure with the British veterinary licensing agency demonstrates its confidence in the quality of the educational standards at US and Canadian veterinary colleges. It is expected to create new opportunities for US veterinarians to practice in England, Scotland, and Wales, while Britain benefits from an influx of American veterinary specialists.

Signed Nov 2 by AVMA president, Dr. James E. Nave and RCVS President Roger Eddy, the agreement becomes effective March 1, 2001.

"I think it's the ultimate compliment to our accreditation process," said Dr. Nave, who began working with RCVS officers on the measure more than a year ago, while president-elect.

"This agreement gives our veterinarians greater global mobility," he said, and is a model for similar arrangements between the AVMA and other foreign veterinary licensing bodies.

Since 1999, graduates from the two British veterinary colleges approved by the AVMA Council on Education—the University of Glasgow Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Scotland and The University of London Royal Veterinary College—have been eligible to obtain a license in a US state.

This past June, a delegation from the RCVS traveled to AVMA headquarters in Illinois to discuss the possibility of opening its doors to graduates of AVMA-accredited colleges in the US and Canada (see JAVMA, Aug 1, 2000). Building on the success of that meeting, Dr. Nave and Dr. Donald Simmons, director of the AVMA Eduction and Research Division, went to London in September to hammer out the details.

"We welcome this cooperation with the AVMA," Eddy said. "It represents a big step forward in terms of global mobility for veterinarians. Just as this agreement enables US veterinarians to come to the [United Kingdom], I am pleased that in the past year or so, AVMA has approved two of the UK veterinary schools and will visit another very soon. I would hope that we might achieve full reciprocity in the not too distant future."

According to the agreement, eligible graduates must have passing scores on the National Board Examination and Clinical Competency Test, or the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. Graduates should not have disciplinary actions related to practice on their records.

The AVMA will annually provide the RCVS with a listing of US and Canadian colleges of veterinary medicine and the accreditation status of each, and with an AVMA Council on Education site visit schedule. Evaluation reports from each site visit will be provided to the RCVS by the AVMA Council on Education.

The AVMA Council on Education will supply any information needed by the RCVS to assess the qualifications of an applying graduate. All such information will be kept confidential. On the basis of this information, the RCVS will determine whether an applicant is qualified to practice in Great Britain.

From time to time, RCVS representatives will take part in AVMA site visits as observers, at the request of the RCVS and with the permission of the school. Travel costs for the representatives will be covered by the RCVS. Either the AVMA or RCVS may terminate the agreement at any time by giving written notification to the other party. In such an event, those individuals who are already licensed by the RCVS will not be affected.

Any US or Canadian college of veterinary medicine that wants to exempt its accreditation process from the agreement may do so and the AVMA would notify the RCVS accordingly. Exempted colleges may become part of the agreement on written request to the Council on Education, which will notify the RCVS and supply relevant evaluation reports.

Dr. Nave believes the agreement could be the foundation for the formation of an international accrediting body for veterinarians. "I see this as a first step toward other discussions, toward potentially one day looking at some type of international accrediting body," he said, adding, "but that's to be determined in future discussions by leaders after me."