Stand-alone equivalency program evolves


AVMA, AAVSB ask medical profession for credentialing tips in attempt to create autonomous standards for foreign graduates; some veterinary leaders resist

Schaumburg, Ill.-As plans to shift the educational benchmarks for foreign graduates to an independent agency steamroll ahead, delegates from two top veterinary groups seek advice from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), a self-regulating credentialing body in human healthcare.

Concluding a three-year squabble regarding their rival standards, theAmerican Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and American Associationof Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) are exploring the feasibility of startinga stand-alone program tentatively titled the Educational Commission forInternational Veterinary Graduates (ECIVG).

It will be "superior" to the AVMA's long-standing EducationalCommission of Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) and the newly formedAAVSB Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Educational Equivalence (PAVE)while providing "a unified and objective approach to credentialingof international veterinary graduates," an AVMA press release claims.

Legal exposure

But as the groups prepare to publicly hash out the program's detailsnext month with ECFMG officers in Philadelphia, Dr. Bruce Little, AVMA executivevice president, is less than optimistic about the deal. Naming the proposedprogram shows "a lot of confidence" when funding and liabilityremain major concerns, he says.

"We've had legal opinion that it's not in our interest to join forceswith AAVSB," Little says. "We're the ones with the deep pockets,and that leaves us open to liability. There are a lot of things that haveto be brought to the table and ironed out before this idea moves forward."

Ferreting funds

That includes levying financial support for an independent benchmarkingprogram. Claiming AVMA spends $100,000 a year maintaining the ECFVG despitea $6,000 per graduate price tag, Little promises his organization will notfoot the majority of the bills for an autonomous exam. While the human healthcareprofession's ECFMG is supported by a variety of sources, it also takes inroughly 690 graduates a year. On the other hand, the AVMA's ECFVG, in placesince 1959, has served approximately 2,400 graduates in 40 years.

"With the ECFMG, there's enough money involved, enough studentswanting to enter the program so it works," Little says. "Frankly,veterinary medicine doesn't have enough foreign graduates generating a greatsource of income to fuel a stand-alone entity. There just isn't enough trafficto support this."

Ever hopeful

Still, the delegates, especially those from AAVSB, remain confident theiridea can work as well as end disputes between the two organizations. Favoringa new program, AAVSB officials call the ECFVG, the only nationally acceptedmeans for gauging educational equivalence, archaic, claiming AVMA's roleas a membership organization is a conflict of interest. AVMA officials sayPAVE is an easier test, allowing offshore graduates to circumvent its rigidsystem.

AAVSB's Executive Director Charlotte Ronan was not available for commentat presstime, but representative Dr. James Corley says he believes the processis moving in a positive direction.

"I'm looking forward to this next meeting," he says.

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