COE ruling disputed


Schaumburg, Ill. - A Mexican veterinary school is appealing a failed accreditation request made recently to the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA's) Council on Education (COE).

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — A Mexican veterinary school is appealing a failed accreditation request made recently to the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA's) Council on Education (COE).

The accreditation bid by the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia (UNAM) also ignited debate about the national association's role in accrediting veterinary schools.

At press time, AVMA's Executive Board will review this role, reports the association's CEO Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, but it doesn't lessen the impact COE plays in setting veterinary educational standards around the world.

AVMA's latest move, however, counters criticism fueled by Veterinary Information Network's co-founder Paul Pion questioning whether the association can effectively separate this regulatory function from its advocacy role.

The Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is crafting a resolution regarding accreditation of veterinary schools. At press time, TVMA officials confirmed a statement was in the works, but report it's still too early to discuss its scope in greater detail.

The most recent debate, however, follows an initiative by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to create minimum standards for foreign veterinary colleges.

"There is a move afoot internationally to establish minimum standards for veterinary education," DeHaven explains. "Currently in developing parts of the world, anyone can open up a veterinary college and graduate veterinarians. There is no international standard that would establish minimum requirements to become veterinarians. AVMA is actively at the table in those discussions to establish minimum standards for veterinary education."

While AVMA's COE accredits veterinary schools in North America, it has also accredited nine foreign veterinary schools as well.

"We want to continue to do that and maintain the gold standard for veterinary education. At the same time we realize there are some real issues we are facing within our education system in the United States as an active participant in the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium."

When it comes to UNAM, COE decisions are confidential unless the schools choose to release information, explains Dr. David Granstrom, director of the AVMA's education and research division and COE liaison. He declined to comment further about any decisions regarding UNAM's appeal after the most recent COE meetings.

As reported in DVM Newsmagazine, the Feb. 28 to March 2 COE meeting resulted in the accreditation of a veterinary medicine program at Western University, but the AVMA now says it also had issued an "adverse decision" at that time regarding UNAM's bid. That's the decision UNAM is appealing.

Without citing specifics about the accreditation decision, the AVMA states that the appeal could be the result of either an initial accreditation denial or the desire to have a partial accreditation ruling changed to full accreditation.

The AVMA Executive Board now must appoint a panel within 120 days of the receipt of UNAM's appeal petition to hold a hearing on the matter. The last appealed COE decision came in 2000, from Western University, the AVMA notes.

UNAM first sought COE accreditation in 1996 and has been working ever since to meet the group's standards. COE had its last site visit to UNAM in November 2009.

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