Restructuring the ACVS Certifying Examination Process
For the past two years, an ad hoc working group has been considering whether or not the certifying examination process should be changed, and, if so, what changes should be made. This working group is comprised of members of the Examination Committee, Resident Credentialing Committee, HumRRO (the testing firm the ACVS contracts with to help prepare, administer, score, and assess results) and other ACVS Diplomates. A listening session was held at the 2011 Symposium to present the results of the working group’s deliberations and to receive feedback from ACVS members.
The primary objective of this process has been to improve resident education. There is currently no connection or alignment between training and evaluation within the current examination process. New Diplomates have often observed that they knew the most after preparing for the examination, and several have commented that their residency training would have been significantly strengthened had they been able to integrate this knowledge into their training.
This is not a particularly new topic. Concerns about the testing process that have been voiced in the past included the lack of alignment between training and the certifying examination and the lapse of time between the end of formal training and the administration of the examination. While some Diplomates have felt that the time spent preparing for the examination after the end of supervised training was a good investment of time and avoided the need to commit time to study during formal training, others have commented that this essentially delayed the time at which those who completed residency training could devote complete attention to their new position (practice, academics, industry, additional training, etc.). Other potential obstacles to changing the format of the examination included concerns about security if parts of the examination were administered at remote locations and increased cost associated with utilization of testing centers.
Several factors have changed over the course of this discussion. Costs of using computer-based testing at remote sites have declined while security has improved. Costs associated with delivering the examination in its current format have increased, as have travel costs for those giving and taking the examination. As the number of residencies available in private practice has increased and caseloads at academic institutions have fluctuated, it has become increasingly difficult for some programs to meet the academic expectations of ACVS residency training. These latter factors have increased interest in revising the examination process in such a manner that it will strengthen residency training.
A straw poll of those who attended the listening session at the 2011 Symposium overwhelmingly favored restructuring the examination process to achieve two primary purposes: improve the quality of resident education and move potential completion of the certification process closer to the end of formal training. The working group has recently prepared a report with specific recommendations regarding restructuring the certification process. This will be reviewed and discussed by the Board of Regents at its meeting of June 22, 2012, and I anticipate that the results of this discussion, as well as the recommendations of the working group, will be shared with the membership shortly after the June Board meeting. I highly doubt that any proposed changes in the examination process will be uniformly endorsed by the membership. However, I hope that Diplomates will keep an open mind regarding this issue and focus on the importance of continuing to strengthen residency training to produce the most highly skilled and qualified veterinary surgeons possible.
Dale E. Bjorling, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Chair, ACVS Board of Regents
June 14, 2012
Restructuring the ACVS Certifying Examination Process – Continued