ACVS COVID-19 Decisions on Training and Credentials
The following email was sent to residents, Resident Advisors, and Program Directors on May 14, 2020, with information on the decisions made for credentials and training requirements in the wake of COVID-19.
Dear Program Directors, Resident Advisors, and Residents,
ACVS is aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted most ACVS resident training programs. The Resident Credentialing Committee (RCC) distributed a survey to each Program Director and all third-year residents to identify their concerns and challenges. After carefully reviewing the results of both surveys and keeping with the directives of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS), the ACVS Board of Regents has approved adjustments relating to credentials deadlines and requirements in order to address the concerns created by the pandemic. Some changes will be permanent, and others will be temporary to address both travel restrictions and reduced operations in clinics during this time. Please read this email in its entirety. Important reminders to assist residents in completing their logs during the pandemic are included toward the bottom of the email.
The ABVS stated the existing minimum requirements for credentialing, as found in the Residency Training Standards and Requirements cannot be changed/waived as a result of the pandemic. However, deadline dates can be altered. Item #3 below addresses an exception to this policy.
The Board of Regents Approved the Following Accommodations
1) Credentials applications must be submitted by August 1, 2020. However, third-year residents who cannot fulfill the minimum requirements by August 1 will have until September 1, 2020, to fulfill any unmet requirements. These residents will have to submit additional documentation with their credentials application that states how they plan to complete their remaining requirements within that one-month period of time. Both the Program Director (PD) and the resident must sign this document. These specific resident logs will not be completed and closed, so that residents can still add their unmet requirements during that one month, and the Resident Advisor (RA) and PD can sign off on them. Due to this change, credentials application fees must arrive at the ACVS office on or before September 1, 2020. This change applies only to applicants submitting credentials in 2020.
2) As it is written in the Residency Training Standards and Requirements, during non-surgical activity weeks (e.g., research, manuscript preparation, independent study), residents are allowed to log surgical cases only if they are emergency surgeries, curriculum-essential surgeries, and surgeries performed on “weekends.” No elective surgeries are allowed and are cause for these weeks to be declined. Due to the challenges related to the pandemic, all residents, regardless of year of training, may log surgical cases during non-surgical activity weeks from March 1, 2020, through September 1, 2020. The RCC will be flexible with the interpretation of the term “curriculum-essential surgeries” since, during this time, all surgeries, including elective surgeries, could be considered curriculum-essential due to current low caseloads. This interpretation will allow residents to continue to log cases toward their total case numbers, which is “essential” in itself to meet the minimum total requirements.
3) Corrective surgery for angular limb deformity (ALD) is no longer a required procedure in the large animal (equine and general emphasis) curricula for residents who started on or after July 1, 2019. This procedure is very much a seasonally dependent surgery, and many residents travel to private practices to participate in these surgeries. Such travel is not possible at this time. Therefore, ALD surgical cases (4 cases) are retroactively being removed as a core category requirement from the large animal curricula for all current large animal residents. This is a permanent change.
4) The RCC will offer all third-year residents who are intending to submit their credentials this year a preliminary review opportunity. Third-year residents may submit their training logs by June 1, 2020, for preliminary review, and the RCC will review and return them within two weeks. Our goal is to give the third-year residents some clarity and reassurance on what is acceptable and what minimum requirements remain outstanding to submit a complete credentials application. This change will require submission of a Semi-Annual Review (with an end date before June 1) by the RA and PD. The resident must acknowledge the review (as with any other log review deadline). This extra review is not mandatory. Regardless of whether the resident opts in for the June log review, they will still need to submit their training logs and credentials by the August 1 deadline, as discussed above in #1.
The RCC Would Like to Emphasize These Items to ACVS Residency Training Programs
1) Currently, a surgical service week is defined in the Residency Training Standards and Requirements as “5 days of training during a 7-day period.” This definition will not change during the pandemic; however, we would like to point out that training can be flexible during this period from (March 1, 2020 through September 1, 2020). The same document describes the responsibilities of residents on a surgical service during a surgical service week:
- Receiving clinic appointments and obtaining a history and pertinent information from clients
- Supervising daily management of hospitalized animals
- Participating in or performing surgical procedures on the cases they manage
- Participating in clinical teaching (graduate or primary care veterinarians, staff, interns)
- Providing optimal clinical service and prompt, professional communications
During the pandemic, some clinics are restricting physical access to the clinic to three or four days, followed by a similar period that the resident is not allowed on site. Thus, the resident might not be able to perform all of these tasks on all five days of training during a seven-day period. However, some of these tasks (4 and 5) can still be performed remotely on the days of the week that the resident is not physically present. Completion of one or more of these tasks allows those days to be counted as part of those surgical service weeks. With this flexibility, the resident may receive credit for five days of training during a seven-day service week.
2) We realize that some institutions have halted or delayed research activity due to this pandemic. We would like to emphasize to Diplomates involved in residency training programs that the research and publication requirements do not have to be tied together. Even during this time when an institution may suspend research activity, residents can still fulfill their manuscript requirement by writing retrospective studies that follow the scientific approach as outlined in the Residency Training Standards and Requirements.
We hope that these changes and recommendations will help many residents to move forward productively during this difficult time. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Jeff Melia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric J. Parente, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons
ACVS Director of Certification
Sabrina Brounts, DVM, MS, PhD
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons - Large Animal
Diplomate, European College of Veterinary Surgeons
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation
Director, ACVS Resident Credentialing Committee