Work continues to improve veterinary education worldwide
In numerous countries, the quality of veterinary education is failing to meet the requirements for delivering highly competent veterinary services, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
“A well-educated veterinary workforce is key in providing scientifically sound risk assessments, credible reporting of diseases, and effective delivery of services to producers and consumers,” said Dr. Monique Éloit, director general of the OIE, during the fourth OIE Global Conference on Veterinary Education, “Learning today, preserving our future,” which was held June 22-24 in Bangkok.
Evaluating effectiveness of teaching
Previous OIE Global Conferences on Veterinary Education addressed the need for better quality and harmonization of veterinary education worldwide. They led to the development of day-one competencies of graduating veterinarians, a model veterinary core curriculum, and legislative guidance for member countries describing veterinary educational requirements and responsibilities of veterinary regulatory bodies. Additionally, the concept of twinning in the field of veterinary education and among veterinary statutory bodies led to the OIE creating its Veterinary Education Twinning Program in 2013. Each project under this program is a partnership between two or more veterinary colleges.
Dr. Ron DeHaven, outgoing AVMA CEO, who chaired the OIE ad hoc Group on Veterinary Education, which defined the day-one competencies four years ago, said, “It is very gratifying for me to see veterinary schools around the globe embracing the day-one competencies and model core curriculum. Not only are these documents defining some minimum global qualifications to be called a veterinarian, they are starting to raise the standards of veterinary education in many developing countries.”
More work is needed, however, as substantial disparity remains among veterinary colleges across the world in the implementation of OIE guidelines and recommendations, according to a July 26 OIE press release. Dr. DeHaven pointed out, “The one piece that we still need to work on is a mechanism or ‘tool’ to assess how well individual schools are actually teaching the day-one competencies. It’s one thing to say they’re being taught; it’s another to do a formal outcomes assessment and impartially evaluate the effectiveness of that teaching.”
In fact, that was one of 14 recommendations that came out of the June conference, in which attendees requested that the OIE and veterinary authorities in member countries take certain actions to further the improvement of veterinary education worldwide.
The recommendation stated that the OIE should continue advocating for outcome-based assessment of curricular enhancement made by veterinary colleges that incorporate OIE day-one competencies and the OIE model veterinary core curriculum.
Another key recommendation from the 2016 conference was for the OIE to consider expanding its work on the quality of veterinary services to better cover veterinary paraprofessionals working under the responsibility and supervision of veterinarians.
In October 2015, the OIE Regional Conference on “The role of veterinary paraprofessionals in Africa” first noted that veterinary paraprofessionals are not always under the regulation of veterinary statutory bodies, yet their contribution is of high importance in many countries where the number of veterinarians is limited. Attendees at the regional conference had recommended that the OIE, among others, consider identifying minimum competencies for various categories of veterinary paraprofessionals and developing guidelines on core training curricula. That recommendation was echoed at the veterinary education conference. This issue will be on the agenda of the OIE in the coming months, according to an OIE press release.
Member countries will consider endorsing the recommendations at the 85th World Assembly of Delegates of the OIE in May 2017 in Paris.
Finally, a less formal suggestion that came from the conference had to do with accreditation. Around the world, various regional, national, and international accrediting agencies, including the AVMA Council on Education, evaluate veterinary education programs.
Dr. Andrew Maccabe, executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, said attendees had suggested the World Veterinary Association convene a forum for these accreditors to share best practices.
Of the COE-accredited programs represented at the conference, five participate in twinning programs. To date, nine projects are underway in the five OIE regions, and five projects are under development. These include twinning programs between the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and Chiang Mai University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Thailand, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Gondar Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Ethiopia, and the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and the Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Science University in Bangladesh.
“It’s definitely a two-way exchange of information,” Dr. Maccabe said. “The AAVMC members that are involved in twinning programs are learning as much as the schools in the developing world with which they are partnering about different ways of teaching and the issues veterinary colleges face around the world.”
Related JAVMA content:
Raising global veterinary standards (Feb. 1, 2014)
Veterinary schools work across international borders (Sept. 15, 2013)
Starting from day one (Aug. 1, 2011)
OIE developing minimum veterinary education standards (April 1, 2010)