COE Standard: Council approves changes to Standards of Accreditation; response to stakeholder feedback

The following message was sent on January 15, 2016 to AVMA members who have subscribed to receive the COE Standard newsletter. To receive news and important information about the veterinary school accreditation process, overseen by the AVMA Council on Education, subscribe to the COE Standard at

After extensive review including consideration of comments received during a period of public comment the Council on Education has approved changes to Standard 10, Research Programs; and Standard 11, Outcomes Assessment. The new versions of these Standards are:

Standard 10, Research Programs
The College must maintain substantial research activities of high quality that integrate with and strengthen the professional program. The College must demonstrate continuing scholarly productivity and must provide opportunities for any interested students in the professional veterinary program to be exposed to or participate in on-going high quality research. All students must receive training in the principles and application of research methods and in the appraisal and integration of research into veterinary medicine and animal health.

Rationale for change: The revisions are to further clarify the expectations of the Council with regard to the research program of the veterinary medical colleges and its integration with the veterinary medical program.

Standard 11, Outcomes Assessment
Outcomes of the veterinary medical degree program must be measured, analyzed, and considered to improve the program. New graduates must have the basic scientific knowledge, skills, and values to provide entry-level health care, independently, at the time of graduation. Student achievement must be included in outcome assessment. Processes must be in place to remediate students who do not demonstrate competence in one or more of the nine competencies.

The college should have in place a system to gather outcomes data on recent graduates to ensure that the competencies and learning objectives in the program result in relevant entry level competencies.

The college must have processes in place whereby students are observed and assessed, with timely documentation to assure accuracy of the assessment for having attained each of the following competencies:

  1. comprehensive patient diagnosis (problem solving skills), appropriate use of diagnostic testing, and record management
  2. comprehensive treatment planning including patient referral when indicated
  3. anesthesia and pain management, patient welfare
  4. basic surgery skills and case management
  5. basic medicine skills and case management
  6. emergency and intensive care case management
  7. understanding of health promotion and biosecurity, prevention and control of disease including zoonoses, and principles of food safety
  8. client communications and ethical conduct
  9. critical analysis of new information and research findings relevant to veterinary medicine

The Council on Education expects that 80% or more of each college’s graduating senior students sitting for the NAVLE will have passed at the time of graduation.#

# Colleges that do not meet this criterion will be subjected to the following analysis. The Council will calculate a 95% exact binomial confidence interval for the NAVLE scores for colleges whose NAVLE pass rate falls below 80%. Colleges with an upper limit of an exact 95% binomial confidence interval less than 85% for two successive years in which scores are available will be placed on Probationary Accreditation. Colleges with an upper limit of an exact 95% binomial confidence level less than 85% for four successive years in which scores are available will, for cause, be placed on Terminal Accreditation. If no program graduates take the NAVLE, the Council will use other student educational outcomes in assessing compliance with the standard including those listed in 12.11.1.

Rationale for change:
The revisions are to clarify the expectations of the Council regarding the use of outcomes assessments in the veterinary medical educational program. Student assessment must be completed in a timely manner. Outcomes assessment must be used to remediate students who have not yet attained the requisite competencies and must also be used to improve the veterinary medical educational program. In addition, the revisions clarify the assessment of veterinary medical educational programs which do not have graduating senior students sit for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE).

Council approves response to stakeholder feedback
As part of the compliance report to the United States Department of Education the Council approved a report on the Council’s analysis and response to the feedback received from stakeholders via a variety of avenues. The report details the avenues of data collection, the Council’s analysis of the information gathered, actions taken as a result, and areas of process and policy that will continue to be reviewed and potentially modified.

3 thoughts on “COE Standard: Council approves changes to Standards of Accreditation; response to stakeholder feedback

  1. Given the nose dive in grad quality attached to a potential exponential influx of foreign grads at levels substantially even less that prepared than US DVMs, I fail to find any reasonable logic for this position by COE. The very center of the matter falls to economics: Theirs and ours. We are working longer with less profit margin and more competition from corporate entities with more critical demands by the public, while grads can not survive on their school debt load with wages we can afford them. It is truly curious as to why AVMA and COE choose to support foreign DVMs first over US clinicians. AVMA does have the standard of “American” as the first word. The dues paid the last 40 years seem to have been misplaced on our behalf while innumerable awards are handed out for those found to have done notably well for us. What part of helping us is not heard. Leadership inspires greatness above expectations in those who follow. Employment anticipates compulsory effort. We need leaders to gather us together in one force for improvment, not to further weaken us at our expense.

  2. I cannot seem to find the COE’s requirements for basic science within the colleges of veterinary medicine. What are the criteria for evaluation of these programs ? My experience has been that the council does not do a very thorough job of evaluating these programs nor addressing their deficiencies or strengths. I believe this leads to the production of technically sound veterinarians but fairly shallow ones. The use of an all multiple choice NAVLE exam is a mistake and also leads to practice test taking which only results in good test takers not necessarily good veterinarians. I hope the COE is actively pursuing a mandatory basic science exam at the end of the second year before allowing students to proceed into the clinical years. Thanks for your attention.

    • Dr Cartee, your points have been brought up for many years but never implemented by an arrogant COE and veterinary academics who refuse to improve standards by adhering o an outdated concept that every veterinary student must learn about everything in veterinary medicine. As far back as 1986, the idea of having a strong basic science core for about 2 years followed by tracking along defined themes for two years has been suggested. Only in Belgium has such a model been implemented for about ten years. The COE standards are failing to meet a modern reality of what students can and should be learning to be competent but instead hold to the outdated concept of the universal , omnicompetent veterinarian educated in 4 years in a profession with nearly 40 specialties.