St. George's accredited by COE

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Students at St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine
St. George's University students cheer during the announcement made by Chancellor Charles R. Modica that the veterinary school had received full accreditation status by the AVMA Council on Education. (Courtesy of SGU)

A crowd of about 500 students, faculty, and staff at the St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine gathered Sept. 19 to hear some greatly anticipated words—the school was granted full accreditation status by the AVMA Council on Education.

The school, located in Grenada, West Indies, received the notification during the COE's meeting Sept. 18-20 at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill. The decision is retroactive to the date of the council's comprehensive site visit; that is, all students graduating after April 21 are considered graduates of a COE-accredited institution.

The new accreditation status means SGU graduates will now be able to sit for licensure to practice veterinary medicine in the United States or Canada without first completing a foreign graduate examination. The pass rate for SGU students taking the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination in 2010 was 96 percent.

Dean Raymond F. Sis said he was very happy about the decision and has received plenty of congratulations from colleagues and former students across the globe.

Currently, about 500 DVM-degree students are enrolled, distributed over the four years of the veterinary curriculum. Eighty-five percent, approximately, are from the United States, with the remaining 15 percent coming from other countries, including Canada. Over the past decade, SGU students have come from 22 countries.

Students in the four-year DVM-degree program study basic veterinary medical sciences during the first two years. Third-year students go on to the introductory stages of their clinical work. The fourth year consists of 48 weeks of off-site clinical training at another veterinary school or college divided into 18 weeks of instruction in six core subjects and 30 weeks of electives. St. George's is affiliated with 23 U.S. veterinary schools and colleges, two schools in the United Kingdom, and schools in Canada, Ireland, and Australia.

SGU's veterinary school starts two new classes each year—in August and January. Generally, 80 to 90 students arrive in the fall term and between 50 and 60 in the spring term. Dean Sis said he doesn't anticipate the number of students admitted to grow, but does expect a larger applicant pool now that the school has been accredited by the COE.

The school, founded in 1999, submitted a self-study report to the COE in 2006, and the council conducted a consultative site visit Feb. 18-22, 2007. A council site team paid a comprehensive site visit to the island April 17-21, 2011.

St. George's is the second Caribbean school to become fully accredited this year; Ross University earned that distinction this past spring. SGU is the 17th foreign institution accredited by the council, including five in Canada. The 28 U.S. veterinary schools and colleges are also COE-accredited.

The COE grants accreditation status to foreign schools and colleges of veterinary medicine on the basis of compliance with the 11 standards of accreditation.

Foreign colleges are required to undergo a preliminary or consultative site visit to determine their preparedness for a comprehensive site visit and are required to correct all deficiencies identified by the consultative site team before requesting a comprehensive site visit. That visit is the final step before the council makes an accreditation decision.

Dean Sis said the COE process for accreditation was very thorough and that all of the council's policies and procedures were followed.