Blog: After nine innings, debate over veterinary college accreditation is over

Blog: After nine innings, debate over veterinary college accreditation is over

Four resolutions targeting COE defeated by AVMA House of Delegates.
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Jul 20, 2015

For nearly four years, a group of critics within the profession has attacked The American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) and its role in accrediting veterinary colleges. Although the critics numbered less than 1 percent of the profession, they managed to place their issues at center stage for veterinary discussions all these years. That changed July 10 in Boston with the actions of the AVMA House of Delegates.

Each of four resolutions favored by COE’s critics were voted down resoundingly (between 71 percent to 91 percent) by the Delegates, including the formation of an AVMA task force calling for more study and deliberation. What’s interesting is that a powerful argument made on the floor of the House of Delegates was that younger veterinarians wanted the AVMA to focus on more important issues of relevance to current practitioners. That sentiment was obvious in conversations with veterinarians of all ages throughout the AVMA convention.

When a team is ahead after nine innings in baseball, the game is over. It doesn’t matter if the other team still believes they are a better team and could win if the game kept going. That is the situation now with the attack on the COE and its volunteer members. The profession has spoken through its governing House of Delegates from every corner of the country and the veterinary profession.

Critics may continue to demand front-page coverage and insist they are right. But at some point, veterinarians in the United States have the right to move on to other pressing issues, and the COE should be allowed to do its job. That’s where we are after the votes in Boston, appropriately in the shadow of Fenway Park.

Mark Cushing, JD, is founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, providing government relations and strategic services for various animal health, veterinary and educational interests. He maintains offices in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., and is a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences.

Cushing, the Fantastic Propagandist

Lawyer, lobbyist and propagandist, Mark Cushing continues to promote his agenda as though it is rational and flawless. He speaks as though, using a baseball analogy, the game is over because the AVMA HOD has voted on a couple of issues. Funny thing, the foxes didn't vote to separate themselves from the henhouse. Who would've thought?

What's really interesting, though, is that the issue is most certainly not over, as the forthcoming hearing with the US Department of Education's NACIQI is slated for mid-2016. Recall that the committee found the AVMA-COE wanting in a number of key areas, none of which could be satisfied or ended with an AVMA HOD vote. Despite the spin coming from Fred Derksen in his December 12, 2014, post-NACIQI account, and despite the spin coming from Mr. Cushing himself in his blog on these pages from December 15, 2014, the NACIQI committee was very serious and very critical in their assessment of the AVMA during the December 11 hearing. (My response to Derksen's NACIQI account and Cushing's account are available for those interested.) The list of requirements handed to the AVMA-COE was neither light, nor inconsequential. We'll see how seriously the committee takes the AVMA's Listening Tour efforts, among other efforts.

In keeping with Mr. Cushing's (weak) analogy, the game is not over. If this is, in fact, a baseball game, the HOD get-together was a 7th Inning Stretch at best. However, I reject that this even resembles a game. In any event, I look forward to expressing my thoughts on accreditation of veterinary education along with my engaged, concerned colleagues at the next NACIQI hearing in Washington, D.C. And I very much look forward to the propaganda that will emerge from the pen of Mr. Cushing in the meantime.