Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

December 08, 2005

Program Will Open Doors for Internationally Trained Vets

Ontario’s veterinary profession and the provincial government have launched a new partnership that will help internationally trained veterinarians continue their careers in Ontario.

The Veterinary Skills, Training and Enhancement Program (VSTEP), announced today at the University of Guelph, will help internationally-trained veterinarians who move to Ontario overcome barriers that prevent them from practising in the province. It's the only program of its kind in Canada.

It’s part of a series of “Bridging Initiatives” put forward by the Ontario government to address future labour market needs in key professions. The province believes the veterinary profession warrants a bridging program due to the number of people coming to Ontario who declare they are veterinarians.

“VSTEP is a unique approach to assessing and recognizing foreign credentials and facilitating skills development to enable international veterinary graduates to meet Ontario’s licensing requirements,” said Elizabeth Stone, dean of U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).

The program will also support practising Ontario veterinarians who need to upgrade skills or expertise, or who are seeking to refocus their practice, Stone added.

VSTEP was developed by OVC, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) and the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. It’s targeted at individuals who have passed the North American veterinary licensing examination but who require upgrading or remediation before attempting the clinical proficiency examination to become licensed to practise as a veterinarian.
In the past, internationally-trained veterinarians have had to find retraining opportunities on their own. Candidates sometimes wait up to two years to write the clinical proficiency exam at a cost of $6,500, and there is a high failure rate.

“VSTEP will build upon the existing skills of internationally trained veterinarians to provide academic knowledge, clinical skills, tools, resources and best practices,” said Barbara Leslie, registrar of the CVO, which regulates the profession in Ontario. “In addition, an opportunity will be provided for access to a restricted licence that may include supervision and mentoring while participants prepare for the clinical proficiency examination.”

The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration has committed multi-year funding to get the program started, with the long-term goal of making it self-sustaining on a fee-for-service basis.

The OVC, OVMA and CVO will provide commitment and support from three perspectives: academia; professional advocacy and continuing education; and licensing and protection of the public interest. Each group will be represented by two members on a Leadership Board that will implement the project.

“Each organization will bring unique perspectives, expert knowledge and resources to the project to ensure excellence and quality of the experience,” said Kerry Lissemore, OVC’s assistant dean of academic affairs and a member of the Leadership Board. “This partnership will benefit individual veterinarians, the profession and society at large.”

For media questions, contact Barry Gunn, OVC communications officer, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 54414.

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