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Monday, 24 June, 2013

AAVMC Endorses AVMA Affirmation of Council on Education’s Foreign Veterinary School Accreditation Program


Washington, D.C., June 24, 2013  – The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) decision to affirm the Council on Education’s (COE) Foreign Veterinary School Accreditation Program will elevate global standards of professionalism, help mitigate the dangers of pandemic disease, and increase public understanding of the important role the veterinary profession plays in the world, according to officials from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).


“Our view is that accreditation of international veterinary schools is important for the advancement of our profession and the promotion of global health and well-being,” said AAVMC President Dr. Deborah Kochevar, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. “The U.S. system for academic veterinary medicine and professional accreditation is recognized worldwide for setting high standards of professional excellence.  Absent an internationally structured accreditation process, it makes sense for the AVMA-COE to recognize those institutions that rise to meet these rigorous standards.”


The AVMA currently accredits 47 veterinary schools around the world, including 29 American and five Canadian schools.  Students graduating from an accredited international school wishing to obtain U. S. licensure do not need to pass the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) or Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence (PAVE) certification processes, which assess basic and clinical professional competence, as well as language and other skills. 


Sanctioned by the United States Department of Education, the AVMA-COE’s professional accreditation program is operated solely on the basis of assessing institutional performance in meeting established professional standards and cannot consider profession-wide workforce issues such as employment capacity and demand in its deliberations.


The AVMA-COE’s Foreign Veterinary School Accreditation Program fosters the development of sophisticated veterinary infrastructure, promotes collaboration and enhances training and research programs at institutions located in countries around the world by providing incentives for excellence, according to Kochevar. 


Additionally, it qualifies accredited institutions for membership in the AAVMC, which provides them with programmatic support that can further enhance the quality of their educational and training programs.


The increased quality inspired by the program will also position international veterinary colleges and their parent universities to serve as more effective resources for governments attempting to diagnose and control emerging zoonotic diseases that threaten global public health.


The program is very consistent with the emerging “One World, One Health, One Medicine” program that has been embraced by the AVMA, the AAVMC, and other organizations, according to Dr. Stuart Reid, Principal of the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) at the University of London. RVC was established in 1791 and accredited by the AVMA COE in 1999.


“We live in a completely interconnected world, in terms of communication, commerce, travel, and importantly, the global production and distribution of animal and plant based foods,” said Reid.  “The economic and public health consequences of human and animal disease obviously transcend geopolitical borders. What we experienced in 2001 with the Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic speaks clearly about the value of internationally embraced standards of excellence and global collaboration in veterinary medicine.”


Reid said American students studying abroad often gain experiences and develop global perspectives that enhance their performance when they return to the United States to practice.


One of several challenges identified by the task force regarding the foreign veterinary school program was the process of applying COE standards to institutions with a variety of educational models.  Confidentiality associated with the process has led to some misunderstanding on the part of individuals who question the veracity of the AVMA-COE foreign veterinary school accreditation program, according to the task force report.


The AAVMC is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment by advancing academic veterinary medicine. Its members include 34 veterinary medical colleges in the United States and Canada, nine departments of veterinary science, eight departments of comparative medicine, three veterinary medical education institutions, eleven international colleges of veterinary medicine, and two affiliate international colleges of veterinary medicine.

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Jeffrey S. Douglas:  
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