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AVMA nixes agreement with AAVSB


Legal complications void plans to unite the groups' rival educational equivalence standards for foreign graduates

Schaumburg, Ill.-As a tentative deal uniting the educational equivalencestandards of two battling veterinary groups sours, the licensure programfor foreign veterinary graduates will, for now, remain largely unchanged.

At presstime, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) officialsannounced that due to legal complications, the group has backed out of anaccord with the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB)to create an autonomous organization overseeing U.S. veterinary educationalequivalence standards.

Instead, AVMA will update its own long-standing equivalence program,the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG). AAVSB,which launched an ECFVG alternative known as the Program for the Assessmentof Education Equivalence (PAVE) last year, views the AVMA's involvementin evaluating educational proficiency and standards as a conflict of interest.

"Obviously, we're very disappointed," AAVSB Executive DirectorCharlotte Ronan says. "A lot of hard work went into this agreement."

Left out in the cold

After two years of preparation, AAVSB canceled its inaugural tests forPAVE, scheduled for January, in hopes that a new equivalence system couldbe created in cooperation with AVMA. Now, Ronan says she doesn't know thefate of the PAVE program, which, at presstime, was to be decided at thegroup's Jan. 20 meeting.

But AVMA Executive Vice President Dr. Bruce Little says PAVE wasn't readyfor launch and contends that pulling out of the accord did little to stallits implementation.

"The clinical exam in PAVE wasn't even written yet," he says."Besides, I think only three states recognize the program."

Most AVMA officials vehemently oppose the PAVE program in favor of thegroup's nationally recognized ECFVG system, in place since the 1950s.

Nothing to lose

The problem with the unification plan is it left AVMA exposed to lawsuits.For example, Little says, if a student fails ECFVG, he or she can sue AVMAclaiming the $6,000 test wasn't administered properly, ample time wasn'tgiven or the testing questions were not applicable. For that reason, AVMAcarries insurance, he says.

"Frankly, we're the only group with any money so compared to us,AAVSB has nothing to lose," Little says. "Our liability risk justcouldn't be managed."

But that's not to say the two groups won't work together in the future,he says. Following the AAVSB Executive Board meeting, representatives fromboth groups will meet in Fort Worth, Texas, to discuss moving ahead.

"We stand ready to meet and work this out," Little says. "Inthe meantime, we'll do everything we can to address the criticisms of ECFVG."

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