Discussions continue on assessment of veterinary education equivalence

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The American Association of Veterinary State Boards and the AVMA are pleased to report on continued discussions regarding the certification of foreign-educated veterinarians seeking licensure in the United States.

Currently, the AAVSB operates its Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence, and the AVMA operates its Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates program. Both are designed to assist state veterinary regulatory boards in assessing the educational qualifications of foreign-trained graduates. In most jurisdictions, the educational requirement can be met by graduating from an AVMA-accredited school or by earning an ECFVG certificate. Twelve regulatory boards have also adopted PAVE.

To avoid duplicative efforts and address perceived legal concerns, the AAVSB and AVMA entered into a dialogue to discuss the goals and concerns of the two associations surrounding veterinary educational standards. This dialogue culminated in the AAVSB and AVMA appointing three representatives each from the PAVE Board and the ECFVG to discuss the desirability and feasibility of developing a single program.

The representatives met twice in 2003 and recommended that legal counsel from the two associations meet with an independent attorney to determine the feasibility, and in particular, the legal feasibility, of continuing discussions regarding the development of a single, independent program. The three attorneys met Nov. 5, and in early December, submitted their report.

The attorneys' report indicated that "the meeting was collegial" and the discussion was "far ranging and candid." Although "legal counsel did not identify any insuperable legal obstacles to the creation of a new, independent certification organization," neither the AVMA nor AAVSB attorney "recommends or opposes the creation of such an organization."

Both sides acknowledged "important policy and economic considerations ... would have to be addressed and resolved in creating a new organization or in fashioning any alternative to the present situation." In conclusion, counsel are "of the opinion that the policy, governance and financial issues need to be addressed first and that any legal issues will be better defined and may be better addressed after these fundamentals are resolved."

Certification of graduates of nonaccredited institutions is an important issue for the veterinary profession, regulatory boards, and the public. As such, the AVMA and AAVSB appreciate the efforts and commitment of the ECFVG and PAVE Board representatives. The two associations agree they did a remarkable job in gathering a tremendous amount of information. Their effort was the first of many steps toward the possibility of a single, independent veterinary educational equivalence assessment program.