Team to Visit
Designation verifies ability to meet international standards
for veterinary medicine"
An accreditation team will visit OVC Feb. 2 to 6
to assess how well the college measures up to international
standards for veterinary medical schools. The accreditation
process is conducted by the American Veterinary Medical
Association (AVMA) in partnership with the Canadian Veterinary
Medical Association (CMVA).
The on-site visit by a team of Americans and Canadians
is a requirement for all veterinary colleges from both countries
at least once every seven years - or more often if deficiencies
are identified. Increasingly, veterinary colleges around
the world are undergoing AVMA/CVMA accreditation to ensure
they meet the same standards.
OVC dean Alan Meek says it's important that the college
maintain its current designation of full accreditation "because
it confirms that our graduates are well trained in the fundamental
principles, scientific knowledge and skills of veterinary
medicine, and that we meet the other essentials that are
evaluated. Full accreditation verifies our ability to meet
international standards for veterinary medicine, which is
vital to assure Canadians and international consumers that
our animal-care, inspection and food-safety practices are
of the highest quality."
Veterinary colleges and veterinarians are an integral part
of Canada's infrastructure for public health protection,
including regulatory agencies, food safety, wildlife and
environmental health, and medical research, says Meek.
Veterinary practitioners and researchers play a key role
in disease surveillance and outbreak response - the front-line
defence against threats such as mosquito-borne West Nile
virus, mad cow disease, E. coli outbreaks and other
diseases transmitted through the food chain.
They also promote the quality and safety of food through
proactive means, such as by animal health programs that
decrease the use of antibiotics. And they advance human
health through comparative medical research. Understanding
animal diseases helps researchers better understand and
treat human diseases.
Further to meeting important human and environmental health
commitments, the CVMA notes that accreditation of Canada's
veterinary colleges "provides a trade advantage to
livestock and livestock-product exporters, since international
trading partners are increasingly basing their health risk
assessments on the competency of the national veterinary
service . . . (which) is directly linked to the accreditation
status of the veterinary colleges." Canada's food-animal
industry has an estimated annual value of $38 billion, including
$8 billion in exports.
Full accreditation also enables OVC graduates to readily
obtain their licences to practice veterinary medicine, says
Meek, and it greatly enhances the college's ability to recruit
students, gain recognition for its graduates, recruit and
retain faculty and maintain the quality of its research
The accreditation team coming to OVC in February will evaluate
the college's organization, finances, physical facilities
and equipment, clinical resources, library and learning
resources, students, admission, faculty, curriculum, continuing
education and research programs. Full accreditation means
OVC's program meets or exceeds all 11 of these standards,
which are established by the U.S. Council on Education.
A college that is unable to meet one or more standards
is placed on limited-accreditation status until it remedies
its shortcomings. Failure to do so results in the termination
of accreditation status.
Of Canada's three other colleges of veterinary medicine,
the Atlantic Veterinary College is fully accredited; the
University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary
Medicine is fully accredited but for a restricted period
of time because of infrastructure and other concerns, and
the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire
at St. Hyacinthe in Quebec is on limited accreditation.
Meek says the deans of all four of Canada's veterinary
colleges have been meeting with federal officials for a
number of months to secure "much-needed reinvestment"
in their facilities and they hoped to hear some promising
news in the Dec. 10 federal budget. He notes, for example,
that no Canadian veterinary college has "Level 3"
biocontainment facilities, which is "a great concern
given the new and emerging diseases such as West Nile virus
and chronic wasting disease."
The U of G/Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural
Affairs contract, which includes OVC's Veterinary Clinical
Education Program (VCEP) funding, is also under review.
The VCEP funding is vital to OVC's ability to provide its
students with essential clinical education and to serve
the animal-owning public of Ontario, says Meek.
"Our VCEP funding remains critical to delivering a
high-quality veterinary clinical education, which is so
important to protecting and advancing public, animal and
environmental health and to helping ensure that the college
continues to meet international standards."