Caribbean Vet Schools
Veterinary medicine continues to be an extremely desirable career path despite the high educational cost and the difficulty of gaining entrance to a veterinary program. The extremely limited number of places in U.S. based veterinary programs has pushed many students to look abroad to international schools that offer veterinary training, sparking strong interest in a few prominent Caribbean veterinary schools.
Equivalency Exams for Foreign Graduates
Students who attend international vet schools that are not accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) face additional expenses and testing before they can become eligible to seek a license to practice in the United States. It can take several months (or even a year or two) to complete these equivalency requirements. There are two equivalency exams that can make a graduate of a non-accredited program eligible for U.S. licensing procedures: the Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence (PAVE) and the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) certification program.
The Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence (PAVE) is an equivalency exam for veterinary graduates that attended school in a country other than the United States or Canada. The program is governed by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
PAVE is not accepted by all states, so a student should investigate the requirements in the state where they intend to seek licensure before enrolling in the program (in 2013 it was accepted in 39 states as well as Australia and New Zealand). The steps for PAVE certification may include a credentials verification process, English proficiency testing, a qualifying science examination, and a demonstration and evaluation of clinical proficiency.
There are many significant (and non-refundable) fees involved with the testing, including a $1,500 charge for the qualifying science exam.
The Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) certification program is an equivalency exam for veterinary graduates of foreign programs. The ECFVG is run by the American Veterinary Medical Association and is accepted by all states and the federal government. It is also accepted by Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The steps for ECFVG certification include credential verification, an English language assessment, a 225-question Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BSCE), and a multi-day hands-on Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE). As of 2014, enrollees are required to submit documentation that details their surgical experience. The ECFVG also involves significant fees for the certification and testing process, including a $1,400 registration fee and a $210 additional fee for the BSCE exam.
After completing all equivalency requirements, the new veterinarian must also meet all other criteria required for U.S. and Canadian graduates including passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) and any achieving any other state or local licensure requirements.
Only upon passing all requirements will a veterinarian be eligible to practice medicine in their state of choice.
Accredited Caribbean Vet Schools
Caribbean vet schools have become a popular option for many U.S. students that are unable to gain entrance to a U.S. school of veterinary medicine, and since 2011 there have been two AVMA approved options to choose from:
Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (founded in 1982) is located on St. Kitts in the West Indies. The program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association and as such its graduates are not required to take foreign licensure exams to practice in the United States, Canada, or Puerto Rico. Ross University was the first Caribbean veterinary program to achieve AVMA accreditation (in March of 2011).
St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine (founded in 1999) is located on the island of Grenada in the West Indies.
The coursework includes three years at SGU followed by a year of clinical training at an AVMA accredited program in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, or Australia. The program’s AVMA accredited status ensures that its students do not have to take foreign graduate exams to practice in the United States. St. George’s University was the second Caribbean veterinary program to become AVMA accredited (in September of 2011), and approximately 160 students graduate from the program each year.
Non-Accredited Caribbean Vet Schools
St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine (founded in 1997) is located on the island of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. The school promotes itself as the most affordable option amongst the Caribbean vet school programs and has very small class sizes to guarantee personal attention. It is not AVMA accredited, but students can become eligible to practice in the U.S. by following PAVE or ECFVG equivalency exam pathways.