Australian veterinary school AVMA-accredited

Council decision made after August site visit
Published on November 19, 2012
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Queensland’s School of Veterinary Science occupies four recently constructed buildings that house companion animal and equine hospitals, veterinary teaching laboratories, a fourstory office and research tower (pictured), and a clinical studies center. (Photos courtesy of University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science​)
A 76-year-old veterinary program, located about 60 miles west of Brisbane, Australia, is the latest to be accredited by the AVMA Council on Education.

The University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science has received full accreditation for the next seven years. That makes the institution the fourth in Australia to be recognized by the council and the 18th foreign veterinary school, including five in Canada.

Council members made the decision during their meeting Oct. 7-9 at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill.

COE accreditation measures veterinary programs according to 11 standards, which cover areas such as physical facilities, clinical resources, curriculum, and research. The accreditation team made a consultative site visit in August 2010, during the move of the veterinary school into new facilities for teaching and research, which cost $100 million in Australian dollars to build, at the Gatton Campus of the University of Queensland.

“At the time of the consultative visit, we were still undergoing a process of settling into these new facilities and especially our new veterinary hospital. The key recommendations from the 2010 consultative visit related to building case-load—especially equine—and reviewing the school’s administrative structure,” Dr. Glen Coleman, head of the veterinary school, told JAVMA.

By the time of the comprehensive site visit this past August, the veterinary school had finished its transition process. Dr. Coleman said the school continues to build its small animal caseload in the new Veterinary Clinical Studies Centre while maintaining the original veterinary teaching hospital at the old campus in Brisbane. The  equine practice is well-established—thanks to a large local Thoroughbred population—and the new teaching and research facilities are fully operational.

The five-year BVSc degree program already has full accreditation with the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the United Kingdom. This enables Queensland graduates to also practice in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Hong Kong, and most of Asia.

Dr. Coleman said in an Oct. 18 press release that COE accreditation was a “tremendous result” and would have substantial benefit for current and prospective students, staff, the university, and the profession in general.

“AVMA accreditation is well recognized as the international benchmark for quality in veterinary education,” Dr. Coleman said. “This is a ringing endorsement of the quality of the school’s staff, students and facilities.”

He continued, “AVMA accreditation will also enable the UQ School of Veterinary Science to develop agreements with international veterinary schools for student exchanges which will enhance options for students and capitalize on the different veterinary experiences available at UQ and abroad.”

Veterinary students at the University of Queensland work in teams in the 130-seat anatomy laboratory.
The current number of veterinary students enrolled totals 577. The veterinary school accepts a mean 120 students per year; of that number, 28 are usually international students. Most of them come from Hong Kong, Singapore, or other Southeast Asian countries. The number of students from North America is low—one to two students per year. Starting with those in 2012, graduates will be able to sit for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, a prerequisite to practice in North America.

“There is interest from a small number of our current students to pursue a global career in veterinary medicine, which would include working in the U.S. Numbers taking the NAVLE are expected to remain low,” Dr. Coleman told JAVMA.

All of UQ’s veterinary graduates are employed either immediately after graduation or within a short period thereafter, he said. About half pursue mixed animal practice, 30 percent go into small animal practice, 10 percent opt for large animal practice, and the remaining 10 percent engage in other areas of the profession, including research, wildlife medicine, or government. (Dr. Coleman added that Australia, like the United States, has regions where veterinarians are scarce, particularly in remote and rural areas.)

Since its first admission of students in 1936, the UQ School of Veterinary Science has been recognized for excellence in teaching across the veterinary disciplines and the quality of its research. Major contributions have been in tropical and subtropical animal health and medicine.