Blog: AVMA accreditation hearing goes according to form

Blog: AVMA accreditation hearing goes according to form

Federal government hears from critics, supporters on role of AVMA Council on Education.
Dec 15, 2014


The U.S. Department of Education conducted a full morning of hearings on December 11 to determine whether the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (COE) should continue to serve as the accrediting body for veterinary colleges in the United States.

Supporters and critics alike voiced their views, and the department’s accreditation commission affirmed the continued role for the COE. Internal adjustments continue to be required of the COE, which will report back to the Department of Education at six- and 12-month intervals.

No new evidence was presented by COE’s critics. In fact, a number of the commission members asked questions about, and commented on, the absence of evidence submitted in support of critics’ challenges to the COE. This has been a persistent point of concern for this blogger (who testified at the December 11 hearing)—namely, that generic charges were aimed at the COE, and repeated over and over, without any evidence that graduates of veterinary colleges with distributive clinical models performed in practice at “substandard” levels.

The commission also appeared to reject the suggestion of critics that the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) is an easy examination and that its passage by graduates should not count as a basis for validating the quality of veterinary training by accredited colleges. There was also recognition by commission members and the Department of Education undersecretary that innovation is a core value for institutions of higher education, and no case was made that veterinary medicine should be an exception.

The COE has made numerous changes through this review process, and more are to follow, including greater efforts to reach out to all veterinary stakeholders. Critics properly claim credit for some of these changes. But one only hopes that the nuclear issue of throwing out the COE and creating a new federal accrediting body is behind us. No credible case was made for why this is necessary or will not cause more harm than it solves. Veterinarians may continue to debate the underlying issues of foreign school accreditation and the merits of distributive clinical training, but the record should reflect that no evidence yet has surfaced to support the cries of COE’s critics.

Still, this blogger doubts we’ve heard the last of these issues.

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.

The Veterinary Policy Notes blog on helps veterinarians and other animal health professionals keep abreast of the growing number of issues, political challenges and regulatory initiatives affecting the veterinary profession, animal health industry and animal welfare movement. The views and opinions presented are those of the author.

Silence is Consent

I was also a third party commentor at the hearing Dec 11.
Accreditation aside, I was saddened and angered to hear Mr. Cushing, a prominent lawyer, say regarding all the veterinarians who did not submit complaints that.... silence is consent.
Silence is consent.
Working in a context where we are sworn to alleviate the suffering of animals that cannot speak, a profession full of women, against whom this very line has been used to excuse harassment, assault and rape, Mr. Cushing feels it appropriate to claim that silence is consent.
I feel it appropriate to question his competence to work in this profession, as I did in this blog post.

NACIQI Meeting

Mr Cushing: I am not really sure which NACIQI meeting you attended or what your agenda is.

At the meeting I attended, the NACIQI was EXTREMELY concerned about the way the COE and the AVMA go about accrediting veterinary schools. In fact, multiple members of the committee said exactly that: "I am extremely concerned".

Members of the committee commented that they could not ever remember receiving over 800 negative third party comments.

Furthermore, not only did the committee agree that the AVMA was NOT in compliance and had six and 12 months to come into compliance, they added back in another criteria that had to be corrected. The committee voted unanimously to add their concerns about CONFLICT OF INTEREST to the recommendations on the original report.

The committee was furious that they did not know that two duly appointed/elected members of the COE had been expelled from the Council on Education.

Accreditation is broken. For the sake of OUR profession, not yours, it needs to be fixed. I would hope we do not wind up in the position of the legal profession where graduates are unable to find employment and are suing the institutions that educated them for not fulfilling their promises.

Dr Eric Bregman