Building bridges

Published on April 01, 2012
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Iraqis see AVMA education standards as model

A delegation of Iraqi veterinarians spent a week at AVMA headquarters in suburban Chicago, Feb. 27-March 2, to foster ties between the two associations.

AVMA staff provided an overview of Association operations, touching on topics ranging from membership outreach to publication of the AVMA journals. Six Iraqis, including a Kurdish veterinarian and two facilitators working in the United States, formed the delegation.

Iraq is home to approximately 10,000 veterinarians, almost all food animal practitioners, according to Dr. Ali Waheed Mohsin, vice president of the Iraqi Veterinary Medical Syndicate. Nearly half the nation's veterinarians are employed by the Ministry of Agriculture, while around a thousand veterinarians work in the private sector, Dr. Mohsin said.

Because millions of livestock were killed during the Iraq War, many veterinarians are unemployed—a problem compounded by the graduation of 500 or so veterinarians annually from the nation's 14 veterinary colleges, Dr. Mohsin explained.

Veterinary graduates in Iraq are licensed to practice without first having to pass an examination to assess their competence. And so, the Iraqi delegation was particularly interested in learning from the AVMA about its efforts to ensure high-quality veterinary education standards in the United States.

Much of the briefings focused on the AVMA Council on Education's accreditation of U.S. and foreign veterinary schools as well as the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates' program evaluating the skills and knowledge of veterinarians trained at institutions that have not been accredited by the AVMA. The AVMA also helped coordinate a daylong meeting between the delegation and the ECFVG testing vendor, Prometric, on best practices in developing certification and licensure examinations.

Dr. Mohsin has plans for the IVMS to institute a similar test in Iraq and to begin evaluating the education standards at his nation's veterinary colleges.

"We want to continue this cooperation with AVMA," Dr. Mohsin said. "We need support from the AVMA to establish a (competence) examination in Iraq and assess education standards at the schools."

The AVMA is proud to be seen as a global leader in advocating for the veterinary profession, according to Dr. Elizabeth Sabin, international coordinator and assistant director of the AVMA Education and Research Division. Through these exchanges, the AVMA can provide fledgling associations with ideas on how they might better advocate for animal health, she explained.

"The AVMA also benefits, because a better understanding of issues impacting all veterinarians helps the Association advance its strategic plan and ensure that the U.S. veterinary profession's voice is heard in international settings," Dr. Sabin said. 

From left: Drs. Ma'ad Mohammed, The Borlaug Institute,
Texas A&M University; Konrad Eugster, The Borlaug
Institute; Faisal Hassan Habasha, Iraqi Veterinary Medical
Syndicate; Ali Waheed Mohsin, IVMS; Lokman Taib Omer,
IVMS; and Ibrahim Abdulhussein Swear, IVMS
(Photos by R. Scott Nolen)