The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has recently made major progress towards implementing its new National Veterinary Accreditation Program.
Last year, APHIS asked veterinarians to voluntarily apply for new accreditation status. Veterinarians were asked to fill out a VS Form 1-36a101 on or before October 1, 2011 in an effort to reclassify them to be able to perform certain tasks on either Category I or Category II animals. Those who did not fill out the form are still able to practice veterinary medicine, but are now unable to perform accreditation activities, such as certifying animals for transport and issuing health certificates. Veterinarians who filled out the VS Form 1-36a101 before the deadline above were sent a confirmation letter from APHIS confirming their new accreditation status. Veterinarians who did not receive a confirmation or who do not recall if they signed up by the deadline are encouraged to contact their local APHIS Veterinary Services office to determine their accreditation status.
By becoming accredited, veterinarians can offer additional services to their clients. For example, large animal practitioners can conduct official testing (e.g. caudal fold testing for bovine TB, blood collection for brucellosis tests) and certify animal and herd health, which facilitates producers’ access to domestic and international markets. Small animal practitioners can use their accreditation to certify companion animals for domestic and international movement.
Veterinarians who applied for accreditation are classified in one of two categories:
Category I includes all animals except: food and fiber species, horses, birds, farm-raised aquatic animals, all other livestock species, and zoo animals that can transmit exotic animal diseases to livestock. Category I animal species are limited to: dogs, cats, laboratory animals (rat, mouse, gerbil, guinea pig, hamster), non-human primates, rabbits, ferrets, minks, gophers, amphibians/reptiles, and native non-ruminant wildlife.
Veterinarians accredited for Category I animals must be able to:
- Perform physical examination of individual Category I animals to determine whether they are free from any clinical signs suggestive of communicable disease.
- Recognize the common breeds of Category I animals and accurately record breed information on official documents.
- Apply common animal identification for Category I animals.
- Properly complete certificates for domestic and international movement of Category I animals.
- Perform necropsies on Category I animals.
- Recognize and report clinical signs and lesions of exotic animal diseases that occur in Category I animals.
- Vaccinate Category I animals and accurately complete the vaccination certificates.
- Properly collect and ship specimen samples to the appropriate laboratory for testing with complete and accurate paperwork.
- Develop appropriate biosecurity protocols, as well as cleaning and disinfection protocols, to control communicable disease spread in Category I animals.
Category II includes all animals. Examples are: food and fiber animal species (cow, pig, sheep, goat, all ruminant), horses (mule, ass, pony, zebra), all bird species and poultry, farm-raised aquatic animal species, livestock species (bison, captive cervid, llama, alpaca, antelope, other hoofed animal), zoo animals that can transmit exotic animal diseases to livestock, as well as Category I animals (e.g. dogs, cats, small rodents).
Veterinarians accredited for Category II animals must be able to:
- Perform physical examination of individual animals and visually inspect herds or flocks to determine whether the animals are free from any clinical signs suggestive of communicable disease.
- Recognize the common breeds of Category I and Category II animals, including the types of poultry as defined by the National Poultry Improvement Plan in subchapter G and the common breeds of livestock, and be able to accurately record breed information on official documents.
- Recognize all USDA animal identification systems.
- Estimate the age of livestock using a dental formula.
- Apply USDA]recognized identification (e.g., eartag, microchip, tattoo) for the USDA animal identification system.
- Certify the health status of an avian flock regarding diseases of domestic or international regulatory concern, and evaluate records pertaining to poultry flock testing and participation in Federal and State poultry health programs and classifications.
- Properly complete certificates for domestic and international movement of animals.
- Apply and remove official seals.
- Perform necropsies on animals.
- Recognize and report clinical signs and lesions of exotic animal diseases.
- Develop a herd or flock health plan consistent with requirements
- Vaccinate for USDA program diseases and accurately complete the vaccination certificate.
- Properly collect and ship sample specimens to an appropriate laboratory for testing with complete and accurate paperwork.
- Properly perform testing for tuberculosis (e.g., caudal fold test).
- Develop appropriate biosecurity protocols, as well as cleaning and disinfection protocols, to control communicable disease spread.
- Explain basic principles for control of diseases for which APHIS or APHIS]State cooperative programs presently exist.
Veterinarians who filled out the VS Form 1-36a101 on or before October 1, 2011 were “grandfathered in” to one of the two categories above, based on the category selected by each applicant. Veterinarians who signed up on or before October 1, 2011 are accredited under the new program for three years, and their only obligation from this point on is to renew their accreditation before it expires. The first wave of renewals will begin in 2013 and APHIS will send reminder notices to those who are subject to renewal. At or before that time, Category I veterinarians must take three online courses of their choice (for a total of three units) and Category II veterinarians must take six online courses of their choice (for a total of six units) to fulfill renewal requirements. When an online module is complete, the veterinarian should print the Certificate of Completion, which he or she should retain for documentation. However, before beginning the process of taking courses and printing certificates, the veterinarian will be required to call his or her local Veterinary Services Area Office to obtain a six-digit number. The number will be required to print out Certificates of Completion. Once the Certificates of Completion for the required education are obtained and submitted to APHIS Veterinary Services, the licensees accreditation will be renewed for another three years. Online courses are available at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/vet_accreditation/training_modules.shtml
For veterinarians who have never been accredited, but who now wish to join the accreditation program (and did not sign up on or before October 1, 2011), the following procedures must be followed:
- The veterinarian must complete Initial Accreditation Training (IAT). IAT is an online course consisting of multiple lessons with 14 accompanying quizzes. A passing score of 80 percent or higher is required to earn a Certificate of Completion. In order to be able to take the online IAT courses, the veterinarian must call their local APHIS Veterinary Services Office to obtain access. For students currently enrolled in a U.S. school or college of veterinary medicine, IAT is being incorporated into the regulatory and foreign animal disease curricula at most institutions. Veterinary students can access the course content through the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges website.
- Once the Certificate of Completion is obtained, the veterinarian must then take that certificate and attend a classroom course called the Core Orientation seminar. The Core Orientation is offered periodically throughout the year. Attendance is coordinated through the veterinarian’s local APHIS Veterinary Services Office. The IAT Certificate of Completion must be handed to the course instructor prior to the start of the course. After the veterinarian has attended the seminar, he or she will be mailed an acceptance letter and accreditation certificate.
- In addition to the Core Orientation seminar, the veterinarian must complete a State-specific Orientation (which, in California, is held in conjunction with the Core Orientation seminar).
- Finally, the veterinarian must submit an original completed VS Form 1-36A to the Area Office of the State in which the applicant wants to become authorized to perform accredited duties.
For previously accredited veterinarians who now wish to join the accreditation program (and did not sign up on or before October 1, 2011), the following procedures must be followed:
- Notify the Veterinary Services Office in the State in which you wish to perform accredited duties of your intention to have your accreditation reinstated.
- Submit a completed VS Form 1-36a101 to you’re the Veterinary Services Office. Select only "Box #3" of the first six boxes, and follow the instructions carefully.
- Your Veterinary Services Office will issue you a National Accreditation Number (NAN) to be used to print Certificates of Completion of the APHIS-Approved Supplemental Training (AAST) units you will need for reinstatement into the NVAP.
- Complete your required number (three for Category I animals, six for Category II animals) of AAST units, which can be accessed at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/vet_accreditation/training_modules.shtml
- Submit your Certificates of Completion to your Veterinary Services Office, which Office will notify you of your successful reinstatement into the NVAP.
Once they receive accreditation, new veterinarians are subject to the same education requirements and license renewal process that has been described above for current program participants.
Although veterinarians do not have to be accredited under NVAP standards, doing so will enable them to provide valuable services to clients and further ensure animal health and safety. For more information about the NVAP, please visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/vet_accreditation/.