Delegates to deliberate on independent accreditation of colleges

Published on June 17, 2015
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The AVMA House of Delegates will deliberate this month on resolutions calling for the Association to establish an independent entity to accredit veterinary colleges.

While meeting July 9-10 in Boston, the House will consider two proposals to that effect along with a proposal to enact a one-year moratorium on college accreditation by the AVMA Council on Education.

COE logoThe COE is the accrediting body for veterinary colleges in both the United States and Canada. The council also has accredited 14 veterinary colleges in other countries.

Some AVMA members have expressed concerns about the COE, including concerns about the council’s accreditation of colleges outside the U.S. and Canada and the council’s accreditation of colleges without a full-scale teaching hospital. In 2014, the House voted against a resolution calling for the AVMA Board of Directors to end COE accreditation of colleges outside the U.S. and Canada.

Another concern among some AVMA members is the extent to which the COE is independent from AVMA leadership. In recent years, a number of steps have been taken to strengthen the firewall separating the COE from the AVMA Board and House.

The Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, and Nevada VMAs submitted a resolution for the AVMA Board to “consider establishing an accrediting entity that operates independently from the AVMA with its own bylaws, budget, Board of Directors, and staff.” The associations recommend that this independent accrediting agency would be under the umbrella of the AVMA.

According to the statement about the resolution, “The agency would establish clear and effective controls against conflicts of interest, would address issues of transparency and consistency, and would work to secure acceptance among members of the veterinary profession.”

The New York State Veterinary Medical Society submitted a resolution for the AVMA Board to consider recommending that the COE enact a one-year moratorium on all accreditation actions.

“The NYSVMS believes the veterinary profession has been torn apart over the issue of accrediting veterinary schools, both foreign and domestic,” according to the statement about the resolution.

The U.S. Department of Education conditionally renewed its recognition of the COE after a December 2014 hearing of the USDE National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. According to the statement about the resolution, a moratorium would allow time for all parties to address the concerns of NACIQI and the profession and for the AVMA to enhance communications to members.

According to the hearing transcript, a USDE staff member said there had been no discussion of limiting COE activities while the council resolves issues. And, in the past year, the AVMA has already increased communications to members regarding COE activities through efforts such as listening sessions, email messages, and Web postings. The council has been surveying AVMA members and veterinary students. In addition, the council has reviewed all of the comments it received for the NACIQI hearing.

The NYSVMS submitted another resolution for the AVMA Board to consider establishing an Independent Review Board to determine the governance and financial and legal structures of a new, autonomous accrediting agency. The statement about the resolution describes the dental, human medical, and engineering professions as having accrediting agencies that are separate, autonomous organizations.

However, the Commission on Dental Accreditation is a commission of the American Dental Association, and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education is jointly sponsored by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology is a federation of societies.

Currently, 29 states specify graduation from an AVMA-accredited school as a criterion for veterinary licensure. These states likely would need to amend their statutes if the AVMA were no longer the accrediting agency for veterinary colleges in the U.S.

To be eligible for USDE recognition, an agency needs to conduct accreditation activities for at least two years, demonstrate acceptance by practitioners and educators, and have an official tie to federal financial aid. Under current regulations, veterinary students must be enrolled in a college accredited by the COE to qualify for federal financial aid under Title VII of the U.S. Public Health Act.

Also on the House agenda is a resolution from the New Hampshire VMA calling for voting transparency (see sidebar) in the House. The AVMA Board previously submitted proposals on several subjects (see JAVMA, June 1, 2015).

Proposals going to the House are available here. AVMA members can find contact information for delegates here.

The New Hampshire VMA has submitted a resolution to the AVMA House of Delegates calling for “voting transparency on all questions and elections addressed by the House of Delegates.”

The House is the representative body of the state VMAs and certain other veterinary organizations. Delegates are elected or appointed by various means.

According to the statement about the resolution, “Voting transparency will allow all AVMA members to know how representatives voted on all issues and, therefore, be able to make informed decisions regarding their representation at the AVMA.”

Related JAVMA content:

AVMA Board manages agenda of diverse topics (June 1, 2015)

Accrediting body reinforces firewall with AVMA (June 1, 2015)

Learning to listen: In bid for re-recognition by USDE, AVMA education council called to reach out to practitioners (March 15, 2015)

Major changes the COE has made in the past few years (March 15, 2015)

Past council decisions a continued source of debate (March 15, 2015)

AVMA hears calls to end accreditation role (March 15, 2015)

HOD again rejects measures to stop foreign accreditation (March 1, 2014)