Need for Improved Oversight of Specialty Training Programs: Letter from ACVIM Board of Regents to the AVMA

Jul 17, 2023, 00:00 AM by Jane Sykes

Dear ACVIM Community,

Please find below a draft letter from the ACVIM Board of Regents to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) regarding the need for improved oversight of specialty training programs. At this time, we would value any comments or input on the letter through ACVIM360 or outreach to your specialty president

Over the last decade, serious challenges have emerged in our profession that are already impacting the availability and quality of patient care. If left unaddressed, these have the potential to deepen and threaten the future of veterinary specialty care. The challenges are multifactorial and interconnected but include a mismatch between available internship graduates and residency training programs, suboptimal wellness of intern and resident candidates, lack of diversity, a shortage of specialists and technicians, and lack of oversight to ensure that training programs meet specialty college requirements. Many of these concerns have been voiced by members on ACVIM360. In addition, our residency training program oversight taskforce has gathered data on candidate experiences, and analysis of their results has revealed ongoing concerns that support the need for greater oversight. 

The ACVIM Board of Regents has been actively participating in summits on some these issues, including one on improving house officer wellbeing (co-organized by AAVMC, Mars, and UC Davis and held in Chicago on 12/1/2022), and a specialty veterinary medicine stakeholder summit, Collective Action to Address the Small Animal Veterinary Specialist Shortage (held in Washington DC on 3/8/2023). The ACVIM leadership also recently spearheaded the foundation of a specialty college coalition group that has been meeting regularly to exchange ideas and experiences for the benefit of all specialty colleges. 

The ACVIM Board of Regents recently drafted the attached letter to the AVMA regarding the urgent need for improved oversight of graduate veterinary medical training programs. The letter has been shared with leaders of other groups, including the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC), the Veterinary Specialty Organizations Committee (VSOC), the specialty coalition group, and, at the recent ACVIM Forum, our volunteer committee leaders. The AAVC leadership expressed strong support for the letter, as they also have been working with the AVMA to urge such action. Our goal is to send a single formal communication to the AVMA, ideally co-signed by other organizations, to convince them that a roundtable is needed to explore this possibility in more depth.  

We envision the oversight body would be composed of representatives from different specialty colleges who would work to support specialty colleges in their requirements, similar to the AVMA Council on Education, rather than stipulating activities that conflict with training program goals. Training program requirements at the specialty college level would continue to be reviewed by VSOC to ensure programs meet rigorous standards. 

More detailed information on background and the goals of such a body is outlined in the letter.


Warm regards,


Jane Sykes, BVSc (Hons), PhD, MBA, DACVIM (SAIM)
Chair, ACVIM Board of Regents


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