APHIS unveils new accreditation program

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Washington -- The National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP) is undergoing some changes, which will affect most veterinarians in terms of the continuing education they must earn and how their accreditation is renewed.

Washington

-- The National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP) is undergoing some changes, which will affect most veterinarians in terms of the continuing education (CE) they must earn and how their accreditation is renewed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published the new NVAP requirements Dec. 9, and says the new rules "will strengthen animal health safeguarding activities and increase the training and skills of accredited veterinarians in disease prevention and preparedness for animal health emergencies."

The most significant change in the program is that veterinarians now will be accredited in different ways depending on their specialty and have required CE necessary for accreditation renewal instead of receiving a blanket accreditation that is never revisited, says Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the government relations division at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Though the rules have been completed for some time, the funding had not been available to implement the entire new program sooner, he says.

"They've been talking about it for many years. All the pieces are in place, it's just the funding this year that’s been really been stopping it," Lutschaunig says.

The new program creates two accreditation categories based on whether a veterinarian will practice on large animals or companion animals, according to APHIS, and includes separate CE requirements for each category. The first tier of the accreditation process under the new system would involve accreditation for companion-animal veterinarians with a renewal of accreditation every three years. The second tier would be for large-animal accreditation and require renewal every six years, Lutschaunig says. No renewals were required under the previous NVAP rules.

Additionally, veterinarians accredited before Feb. 1, 2010 will have to continue their accreditation under the new program or it will expire. Participations in NVAP is not federally mandated, but APHIS says more than 80 percent of all U.S. veterinarians are accredited.

Read more about the new program here.

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