For information regarding the House of Delegates (HOD) decisions regarding the proposed bylaws amendments and non-accreditation-related resolutions, read the House of Delegates wrap-up, July 2015 blog post.
At the AVMA House of Delegates (HOD) annual meeting on Thursday and Friday, July 9-10, 2015, the HOD took action on four resolutions regarding accreditation. Prior to the HOD session, the the AVMA Board of Directors (BOD) provided a memorandum, FAQ document, and accreditation comparison chart to the HOD with regard to Resolutions 11-2015, 12-2015 and 13-2015 to provide additional perspective and clarification regarding the statements in the proposed resolutions.
Resolution #11-2015 recommended that the AVMA Board of Directors (BOD) consider recommending to the Council on Education (COE) that the COE enact a one-year moratorium on all new veterinary school accreditation actions.
Resolution #12-2015 recommended the AVMA BOD consider establishing a Veterinary Accreditation Review Board that would be tasked with the responsibility of determining the new governance, financial and legal structure of a new, autonomous Council on Education.
Resolution #13-2015 is similar to resolution to #12-2015. It recommended that the BOD consider establishing an accrediting body that operates independently from the AVMA with its own bylaws, budget, Board of Directors, and staff. However, the authors also recommend that this independent accrediting agency would remain under the umbrella of the AVMA.
Reference Committee 3 thoroughly discussed the resolutions for several hours. The concerns and comments expressed mirrored previous comments made during the Winter Session and the COE listening sessions held at the North American Veterinary Conference, the Western Veterinary Conference, and the Student AVMA symposium. Based on their discussions, the reference committee drafted a new Resolution, #14-2015, as an alternative to resolutions #11-2015, #12-2015 and #13-2015. The committee urged the HOD to defeat resolutions 11-2015, 12-2015 and 13-2015 in favor of 14-2015. Resolution #14-2015 recommended that the BOD assemble a task force to evaluate options regarding the COE. The options listed in the resolution included the following: maintaining the current COE structure, improving the organizational structure of the current COE, creating an autonomous COE under the umbrella of the AVMA, and creating an independent accrediting organization. In addition, the resolution requested that the BOD “provide an opportunity for the House members to submit recommendations for task force members.” This statement was added to address concerns from a committee member that the task force would be selected to exclude certain perspectives.
Based on the reference committee’s recommendation, the HOD first considered Resolution 14-2015. The resulting discussion was passionate, yet constructive and respectful, and represented varied perspectives. Several delegates spoke in opposition to all four amendments, stating that too much time had already been spent on concerns that were effectively being addressed; that none of the resolutions clearly stated the problem that they were trying to solve; questioning what, exactly, is expected to result from the changes to the COE; that much of the criticism of COE is based on concerns about workforce and debt issues, as well as misinformation; that many of the proposed changes to the COE will result in additional expense to the schools, which would likely be passed on to the already overburdened students; that arguments using economics and workforce as reasons to change the COE are flawed and “using the COE as a scapegoat;” that veterinary education has changed and continues to change, and the COE must continue to adapt to those changes; that the risks posed by these resolutions, including the potential negative impact on USDE recognition, outweigh the benefits; and that concerns of liability regarding workforce limitations are real, regardless of whether or not the COE is separate from the AVMA. One delegate who stated that he has participated in veterinary education in a number of countries around the world stated that COE accreditation is the gold standard that they strive to achieve.
Those speaking in favor of the resolution stated that part of the “new” AVMA should be addressing members’ concerns and finding solutions, and accreditation is a top-of-mind concern; that there should be an “absolute firewall” between the COE and AVMA, and that is only possible with separation; that the task force should be assembled to thoroughly investigate the COE and determine what, if any, changes should be made; that the concerns expressed to the US Department of Education suggest the scope of members’ concerns; and that the current situation is similar to that faced when the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME) was fully separated from the AVMA in 1996 – which, the delegate argued, had a positive outcome despite the controversy. One delegate questioned the value of education obtained at distributive-model schools because the COE doesn’t examine every offsite practice involved in education, but another delegate with experience as site visitor rebutted the statement and asserted that the evaluation of distributive model schools is rigorous and intensive.
The representatives of the Student AVMA addressed the HOD, expressing that the students want strong leadership from the AVMA and they are confused as to why accreditation has consumed so much time and energy when it is clear that the US veterinary education system is the best in the world due to the accreditation process. They stated that the students’ top issues are debt and wellness, not accreditation, and urged the HOD to reject all of the resolutions.
The HOD did not approve Resolution #14-2015, with 71% voting against it. No additional discussion occurred regarding Resolutions #11-2015, #12-2015 and #13-2015. All three of these resolutions were defeated; 94.7% opposed Resolution #11-2015, 91.3% opposed Resolution #12-2015, and 76.1% opposed Resolution #13-2015. Following the meeting, Dr. DeHaven stated that the margin of defeat of these resolutions reflected a “vote of confidence” in the Council on Education.
If you’re attending the AVMA Convention in Boston, please remember that the COE is holding a session from 3-5pm on Monday, July 13 in the Harbor Ballroom 1 at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel. The session will be recorded and a transcript will be made available.