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AAVSB breathes new life into qualifying exam


Kansas City, Mo.-As plans to unite rival education equivalency standards for foreign graduates bottom out, the American Association for Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) restores its controversial proficiency program-a move that's sure to rattle the veterinary community.

Kansas City, Mo.-As plans to unite rival education equivalencystandards for foreign graduates bottom out, the American Association forVeterinary State Boards (AAVSB) restores its controversial proficiency program-amove that's sure to rattle the veterinary community.

The news comes as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)quashes a tentative agreement with AAVSB to develop a joint, autonomousequivalency program, citing legal liability concerns as reason to nix theaccord.


Since terminating the agreement, both sides are back to square one, eachdoubting the other's ability to benchmark the educational equivalency ofgraduates from non-accredited veterinary colleges. While AAVSB officialschide AVMA's long-standing Educational Commission for Foreign VeterinaryGraduates (ECFVG), saying it's archaic and tainted by conflicts of interest,AVMA leaders criticize the rival Program for the Assessment of EducationEquivalence (PAVE), saying it's incomplete and missing important standards.

Furthermore, they predict, the AAVSB's model practice act, which includeslanguage to implement PAVE, will only confuse states because the AVMA'smodel has been in place nationwide since the 1950s. To date, California,North Dakota and Texas are the only states to adopt the AAVSB model.

"If they want to try and run PAVE, it's a free world, and they cando whatever they want to do," says AVMA Executive Vice President BruceLittle, DVM. "But if PAVE comes back the way it was before, it wouldallow for de facto eliminations in the accreditation process."

The PAVE qualifying exam is scheduled for August.


A major difference between the programs is PAVE exempts offshore studentsat schools like Ross University from completing a post-graduate year ofclinical study in a U.S.-accredited veterinary college. Ross University'scurriculum already calls for the clinical year as a pre-graduation requirement.By comparison, the AVMA program requires the fifth year of clinical studyin all circumstances, which some offshore students view as expensive andredundant.

Ross University student Jennifer Weisent says she wants to see PAVE becomea viable program before she graduates in 2003.

"We just want a program that's going to be fair," she says."We're not foreign students, we're U.S. citizens and we don't understandwhy we have to spend $6,000 on the AVMA's exam, which tests us on what we'vejust learned. It's discriminatory.

"A year-and-a-half from now, I hope the PAVE program is running,and I'd work in a state that accepts it rather than take the ECFVG. It'sa continuing struggle but at least now things are going in a positive direction."

In the meantime, AVMA officials say they're fine-tuning the ECFVG toaddress criticisms like Weissent's, and have hired an outside consultingfirm to help.

"It's important to AVMA that we do a very good job of evaluatingthe foreign accreditation of graduates; we want to make the ECFVG the bestit can be," says Dr. Bonnie Beaver, chair of the Executive Board. "Asfar as AAVSB is concerned, every organization has the right to develop theprograms that they want. I don't have to live with it. They're the oneswho have to make the decisions and live with their own program."

And "live with it" AAVSB officials are committed to do.

"We didn't expect this to be a short-term commitment, and the reasonswhy we started this program are still there," says AAVSB PresidentDr. Sonny Corley. "We still need a program to accurately and appropriatelydetermine education equivalency for foreign graduates."

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