AAVSB closing one of two certification options

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AVMA Executive Board meeting
The AVMA Executive Board decided not to extend a short-term agreement with the American Association of Veterinary State Boards involving the Clinical Proficiency Examination. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

A program that certifies that graduates from veterinary schools not accredited by the AVMA Council on Education are ready to practice in the U.S. will, at least temporarily, close one of its two paths toward that certification. Robyn Kendrick, executive director of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, said the change would not affect those already participating in her organization’s Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence. The program would stop accepting candidates for the certification pathway that ends in a clinical skills examination, while those already on that path will be able to complete their certification this year, as long as they became eligible for the examination by May 31.

Most PAVE participants already choose the program’s other pathway, which ends with evaluated clinical work at a COE-accredited university, and that pathway will be not be affected. Of the nearly 1,200 veterinarians who have earned PAVE certification since the program began in 2002, only 53 took the examination-based path, Kendrick said. PAVE certification is recognized by veterinary licensing authorities in 38 states, Australia, and New Zealand.

In April, the AVMA Executive Board voted against extending an agreement that had, since March 2012, let those in PAVE’s examination-based pathway take the same three-day Clinical Proficiency Examination used by the educational equivalence certification programs run by the AVMA and Canadian VMA. Under that agreement, the AVMA administered the examination to candidates in both the AVMA certification program and PAVE.

From 2006 through 2011, PAVE had used a two-day examination developed by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Kendrick said the AAVSB suspended offering that examination because of the small number of PAVE candidates who were taking it.

Dr. Nathan D. Voris, who chairs the AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates, which oversees the AVMA certification program, said the agreement with the AAVSB was intended to provide short-term help so that no PAVE candidates would be inconvenienced or disenfranchised when PAVE’s previous final examination became unavailable. But the AVMA commission members were uncomfortable with the proposal to extend the agreement, because of concerns that doing so could leave testing gaps.

Dr. Voris noted that the commission has gradually removed materials from the AVMA program’s final examination in favor of incorporating them into the Basic and Clinical Science Examination that precedes it. For example, he said the earlier test now includes radiographic interpretation, which has therefore been removed from the final examination.

While PAVE also involves a veterinary science test prior to the final examination, Dr. Voris said extensive study would be needed to determine whether that test and the AVMA program’s final examination together cover all needed knowledge and skill areas. The commission members also had concerns because they did not know what the AAVSB planned for PAVE’s future.

Candidates in the certification programs have been the primary concern, Dr. Voris said.

“We’re all colleagues as veterinarians, and, on a short-term basis, we were very comfortable helping PAVE bridge their gap,” he said.

Kendrick stressed that the AAVSB board of directors supports PAVE, as do the veterinary state member boards. She noted that those directors have been discussing the certification program’s future, and the AAVSB understands it has an obligation to continue operating that program to the benefit of its member boards, past participants, and those who want to practice veterinary medicine in the U.S.