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This page answers frequently asked questions about the certification process for the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia. References to source material are provided where applicable and include the ACVAA Constitution and Bylaws, committee Policies & Procedures, and various Standards documents.  The information below is subject to change and will be reviewed annually. Please contact the Executive Secretary with any questions or concerns.

 

What are the ACVAA Residency Training Standards?

The ACVAA Residency Training Standards are outlined in a document which addresses the requirements a residency program must meet in order to be recognized by the ACVAA.  The ACVAA Residency Training Standards are available here .

What are the requirements for certification as an ACVAA diplomate?

The candidate must have their credential packet accepted by the Credentials Committee, including a completed case and activities log, an anesthesia-related manuscript accepted for publication in an approved journal, and must obtain a passing score on all parts of the ACVAA exam.

ACVAA Bylaws Article I, Section 2, A & B
ACVAA Credentials Committee Policies & Procedures

What is required of an ACVAA resident in order to submit credentials for the ACVAA exam?

-Registration of residency status at the beginning of the program.

-Yearly submission to the ACVAA executive secretary of an up-to-date case and activities log within 1 month of the anniversary of beginning residency.

-Completion of ≥104 weeks of residency training in an approved residency program.

-Submission of a manuscript for review by an approved journal.

Credentials packets must meet the requirements outlined in the documents referenced below and be approved within 3 years of completion of residency.

ACVAA Credentials Committee Policies & Procedures
ACVAA Residency Training Standards

What is the fee for registering as a resident with the ACVAA Executive Secretary?

New residents will be required to pay a registration fee of $300 at the beginning of their residency.  This will be put into effect with the new resident class beginning July 2022.  Currently enrolled residents will be exempt from paying this fee.

What are the deadlines for submitting credentials?

Credentials packets must be submitted to the ACVAA Secretary by September 1 of the year prior to the year of the exam attempt.

ACVAA Bylaws Article I, Section 3, B
ACVAA Bylaws Article I, Section 2, A

What must be included in the credentials packet/application?

-The completed Credentials/Exam Application Form

-A current curriculum vitae for the candidate

-A current copy of the Case and Activities log (to include a proposed schedule of clinical and scholastic activities for the remainder of residency if packet submitted before completion of residency).

-A copy of the submitted/published manuscript

-If the manuscript has been accepted for publication, a copy of the acceptance letter

-A letter of reference from a DACVAA or DECVAA mentor

-Three additional reference forms from specialists in their field, one of whom must be a DACVAA or DECVAA

-If residency has been completed, a certificate of completion

-The credentials/exam fee

ACVAA Credentials Committee Policies & Procedures

What requirements must a candidate meet to have their credentials accepted to sit for the ACVAA exam?          

-Be of high ethical and professional standing

-Be a graduate of an AVMA-approved veterinary school, possess an ECFVG certificate, or have the legal qualification to practice veterinary medicine in some jurisdiction.

-Have completed a rotating internship or at least 1 year of general clinical practice prior to starting residency

-Completion of ≥104 weeks of an approved 156 week residency training program (documentation of completion must be submitted if the candidate has not finished at the time of credentials submission).

-Have an acceptable manuscript accepted for publication (see below).

-Submission of an acceptable, up-to-date case and activities log as defined by the Credentials Committee

ACVAA Bylaws Article I, Section 2, A

What requirements must the Case and Activities log meet?

 -All cases anesthetized during the 3-year training period should be logged regardless of whether the recommended number of a species or category had been fulfilled.

-Individual anesthetic events count towards the requirement for cases, even if they occur on the same patient.

-All cases included in the case log must be discussed in detail with a supervising ACVAA diplomate.

-Cases must meet the following requirements.

  1. Cases that fall under core species must be supervised (directly or remotely via telephone) by a DACVAA or DECVAA.
  2. Cases that fall under “other species” may be supervised by other experts in the field as approved by program mentors.
  3. Residents must be directly involved for the entirety of the case.
  4. Residents may not log cases that are managed simultaneously. Case management of simultaneous cases suggests a supervisory role rather than primary case management.
  5. Cases should not be shared by multiple residents. Exceptions to this were approved for 2020 and 2021 due to COVID restrictions.
  6. Terminal cases may be logged, but case responsibility should be demonstrated. Terminal procedures should not constitute more than 25% of the cases logged for any given category or species.
  7. Procedural sedation cases may be counted if case management (i.e. monitoring, record-keeping) was performed.
  8. Early applicants (during the 3rd year of their residency) should continue their case & activities log through their training and submit it to the Executive Secretary with their residency certificate upon completion of residency.

Exceptions may be made at the  discretion of the program mentors AND the credentials committee. It is recommended that any questionable cases should be reviewed by the credentials committee or credentials committee chair; questions should be presented well in advance of credentials submission.

ACVAA Credentials Committee Policies & Procedures

What standards must the research manuscript meet?

-The manuscript must represent the candidate’s scholarly efforts in the area of anesthesia and/or analgesia. It must be accepted for publication in an approved journal at least 2 months prior to the exam and no more than 2 years prior to starting or 5 years following completion of residency training.

-The candidate must be the first author with an additional author of at least one DACVAA or DECVAA.

ACVAA Credentials Committee Policies & Procedures


Can Diplomates of the European College of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia submit credentials to take the ACVAA exam?

Yes. Diplomates of the ECVAA may petition the ACVAA Board of Directors to sit for the ACVAA exam by submitting the request and associated documentation to the ACVAA Secretary by September 1st of the year prior to the exam. The credentials application should include a letter of intent, documentation of DECVAA status, a current curriculum vitae, and the exam fee.

ACVAA Bylaws Article I, Section 2, C

When will I hear about credentialing decisions?

Candidates will be informed of credentialing decisions by January 15th of the year in which they wish to take the exam.

ACVAA Bylaws Article IV, Section 2, C 
ACVAA Credentials Committee Policies & Procedures

What do I need to do if my credentials were not accepted?

-You may appeal any adverse decision of the Credentials Committee (see below).

-Resubmission of credentials must occur by September 1 of the year prior to the year of the examination attempt. Resubmission requires an explanation of corrective measures in response to the Committee’s previous recommendations, including any supportive documents, and an updated CV.

-In cases where the application has been rejected solely due to failure to have a manuscript accepted for publication, the applicant need only forward the journal editor’s manuscript acceptance notification to the Executive Secretary.

-If more than two years lapse between an initial application and a request for re-review, an abbreviated application packet including a letter of intent, up-dated curriculum vitae, a letter of reference from the applicant’s current supervisor or employer must be submitted. Remember that credentials must be approved within 3 years of completion of residency.

ACVAA Credentials Committee Policies & Procedures

How do I appeal an adverse credentials decision or examination outcome?

A candidate adversely affected by a decision of the Examination or Credentials Committees may petition for a review of the decision. The written petition must be filed with the Executive Secretary and shall include a statement of the grounds for reconsideration and any supporting documentation. The petition must be filed within 30 days of the date on which the Credentials or Examination Committee announces its decision or within 30 days of the date on which either Committee advises the affected person of the availability of this appeals process, whichever is later.

ACVAA Bylaws Article I, Section 4

What if a candidate’s credentials were provisionally accepted prior to completing residency?

The candidate must provide documentation of residency completion in the form of a residency certificate or letter from the program leader/ faculty mentor and a complete 3-year case & activities Log to the Executive Secretary within 30 days of residency completion.

ACVAA Bylaws Article I, Section 2, B

What is the 3-exam cycle?

After approval of their credentials which must occur within 3 years of completion of residency, candidates are entitled to three (3) attempts to pass the examination. This is referred to as a 3-exam cycle. The 3-exam cycle begins when an applicant first sits for the examination.

ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 3, B

How do I register for the exam?

In order to sit for the ACVAA exam, candidates must submit a credentials packet by September 1st of the year prior to the year that they wish to take the exam. (See Credentials FAQ above).

ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 2, A

What is the cost of the exam?

Starting with the 2023 exam (credentials submitted by September 1, 2022) the exam fee will be $1500. This will be the same for the initial application and any repeat exam attempts. For candidates sitting the exam in 2022 and prior the cost was $1000 for initial application and initiation of a second 3-exam cycle; $500 for additional attempts within a 3-exam cycle.

I am attempting the exam again. How do I re-register?

-For candidates attempting re-examination, application procedures vary depending on where they are in a 3-exam cycle.

-Within a 3-exam cycle, a candidate fills out the Application for Re-Examination Form and submits this with the appropriate fee ($1500 starting with the 2023 exam) to the ACVAA Secretary by December 31st of the year prior to the year they wish to retake the exam.

-To initiate a second 3-exam cycle, a candidate fills out the Application for Re-Examination Form and submits this with the appropriate fee ($1500 starting with the 2023 exam) to the ACVAA Secretary by September 1st of the year prior to the year they wish to retake the exam. In addition, the candidate must demonstrate continued involvement in the practice and study of veterinary anesthesiology and a study/training plan with an ACVAA mentor approved by the ACVAA credentials Committee with input from the Exam Committee

-Candidates who are unsure of their place within their 3-exam cycle should contact the Executive Secretary well in advance of any submission deadlines to clarify the needed documents and fees.

ACVAA Credentials Committee Policies & Procedures
ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 3, B

What if I am approved to sit for the exam and decide not to take it?

You must inform the ACVAA Secretary at least 7 days prior to the exam. If you do not notify the ACVAA Secretary, it will count as an attempt at the exam.

ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 3, D

What is the exam format?

For 2022, the ACVAA exam will be administered over 3 days. There are 3 parts: 200 multiple choice questions (MCQ), 10 essays, and the 5 hour clinical competency exam (CCE). On the first and second day, 100 multiple choice questions and 1 required essay (cardiovascular physiology, respiratory physiology, or anesthetic equipment) are answered in the morning. In the afternoon of the first and second days, 4 of 5 essays are answered. On the third day, the Clinical Competency Exam is administered.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
AM: 100 MCQ AM: 100 MCQ AM: 8 – 12 CCE questions
AM: 1 hour required essay AM: 1 hour required essay
PM: 4/5 essays PM: 4/5 essays

ACVAA Examination Committee Policies & Procedures

What is the MCQ exam blueprint?

The following table contains the Knowledge Domains and approximate percentage of MCQ in each domain.

Knowledge Domain Percentage of Exam
Case Management 18%
Pharmacology 17%
Perioperative Monitoring 16%
Physiology/Pathophysiology 16%
Equipment 13%
Anatomy 7%
Physics 5%
CPR 3%
Public Safety/Regulations 2%
Professional/Educational 2%
Euthanasia 1%

 What topics make up the essay portion of the exam?

Cardiovascular physiology
Respiratory physiology
Equipment, circuits, physics
Pathophysiology of Disease
Core species (canine, feline, equine, ruminant, swine) case management
Other (minor) species physiology
Acute Pain
Chronic Pain
Pharmacology of anesthetics
Fluids, electrolytes and acid-base
Complications, CPR, and Euthanasia
Monitoring

Two of three topics in red will be required essays. A choice of 4 of 5 of the remaining essays will be written on each of the first 2 afternoons of the exam. The remaining topic of the 3 topics that could be used for the required essay will become a part of the afternoon essay exam. Each essay is weighted equally.

What topics make up the CCE portion of the exam?

Local and regional anesthetic techniques
Pain management (acute and/or chronic)
Case management of co-existing disease
TIVA or Inhalant anesthesia management
Anesthesia Equipment – clinical application
Monitoring
Avian, zoo, laboratory, and wildlife anesthesia
Diagnostic imaging interpretation
Pre-anesthetic stabilization/optimization
Emergency therapy/interventions (up to and/or including CPR)
Interpretation and management of blood gas analysis, acid base, electrolyte and metabolic disorders
Fluid therapy

Because each topic in the CCE exam is associated with a time-limited set of questions, the final number of topics on the CCE will vary from 8 – 12 each year. Each topic will be weighted equally.

What is the difference between essay and CCE questions?

-Each essay is a multi-part question that is meant to be answered over the course of an hour. The answer should be a comprehensive discussion of the underlying concepts demonstrating diplomate-level understanding of the topic. The answer is limited to 5000 characters (about 2 hand-written pages of text). Some questions may request a drawing or tables and these will be completed on paper and then scanned by the exam proctor. Even if a drawing is not requested, you may always include one. A 1/4 page diagram will reduce your available character count by 500.

 -A CCE question is a clinically-focused question that is presented in stages. There is a time limit for each question overall; each part of the question has a suggested time for the candidate to answer. No character limit is associated with CCE questions. Information may be revealed as the question moves along and candidates cannot navigate backwards or change a previous answer. Short answers are expected and bullet points or lists are acceptable.

-Examples of essays and CCE questions are available here and are provided by the ACVAA Secretary once credentials have been accepted.

ACVAA Examination Committee Policies & Procedures

When is the exam administered?

The timing of the exam may change year to year but will be administered at least 120 days after final credentials decisions.

ACVAA Examination Committee Policies & Procedures

How is the exam administered?

The exam is developed using ExamSoft and administered online using Examplify. The exam is currently administered in multiple locations with multiple volunteer proctors.

Can I request accommodations for the exam?

Yes, such requests must be made in writing to the ACVAA Executive Secretary at least 30 days before the exam.

ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 3, E

How is the exam graded?

-The MCQ exam is scored digitally by ExamSoft according to the answer key. Up to 10 new (not previously tested) questions may be included each day. If these questions exhibit good performance and discrimination, they will be counted in the final grade. If not, they will be removed from the exam. Removed questions are credited to the candidates.

-Essays and CCE answers are each blindly graded by 2 ACVAA diplomates, who use an ideal answer that was created and edited by the exam committee. Grading is on a 5 point holistic scale from 1 – minimal information to 5 – excellent answer. If the 2 graders are more than 1 point apart, they are asked to reconsider their grade. If they still cannot agree, a 3rd grader is asked to assess the answer.

-The Standard Setting (aka Cut Score) Committee then conducts the standard setting process as described below.

ACVAA Examination Committee Policies & Procedures

Does a candidate have to pass each section of the exam to get a passing grade overall?

Yes, each part of the exam (Multiple Choice, Essay and Clinical Competency parts) must be passed individually to pass the exam. Within a 3-year cycle, only the failed parts of the exam must be retaken & all parts must be passed within one 3-year cycle.

 How is the passing score set?

-The Standard Setting Committee is composed of DACVAAs who work in a variety of settings (e.g. private practice, academia, and industry). This group evaluates the exam questions in the context of how a minimally qualified candidate would answer. After consultation with a professional organization (Prometric) the Exam Committee and the Board of Directors set the pass points for each exam (MCQ, Essay, and CCE) using psychometrically sound techniques.

-Each question is rated by the Standard Setting Committee as to its difficulty. Difficulty judgments for the examination items are estimates of the probability that a minimally-qualified candidate will answer each item correctly. Expectations of the minimally-qualified candidate are based on an annual reassessment of the Job Task Analysis conducted by the ACVAA at least once every 10 years.

-The Job Task Analysis involves the survey of a sampling of Diplomates of the ACVAA as to the knowledge and skills required of their work. A minimally qualified candidate would possess just enough knowledge and skill to function as a DACVAA.

-The cut score (i.e. the score which must be achieved to pass the exam ) of that year’s ACVAA examination decided by the Standard Setting Committee is considered by the Exam Committee and the ACVAA Board of Directors, who may adjust the cut score based on variability of the responses of the Standard Setting Committee, and factors associated with the metrics of the current year’s exam.

When do candidates learn the results of their exam attempt?

Exam scores will be reported within 45 days of the exam administration.

ACVAA Examination Policies & Procedures

 How are exam results reported to candidates?

-An email is sent by the Exam Chair or ACVAA Executive Secretary.

-Passing scores are reported as Pass. Failing scores are reported as a scaled score so that multiple year attempts can be compared. A scaled score is a mathematical transformation of the raw score to a standardized scale.

ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 3, G
ACVAA Examination Policies & Procedures

Can a candidate request feedback after a failed exam?

A candidate that did not pass may request more detailed information about why they received a failing score and how they may improve going forward. Such requests should be sent to the Executive Secretary who will inform the Examination Committee Chair of the request.

ACVAA Examination Committee Policies & Procedures

How many times can a candidate take the ACVAA exam?

-The candidate must pass all 3 parts of the exam within 3 attempts. If this is not achieved, the candidate must start a new 3-exam cycle, in which all parts must be passed (i.e. parts of the exam that have been passed before must be passed again within the new 3 year cycle).

-As of 2021, candidates have a maximum of 6 attempts at the exam and must pass the exam within 9 years of completing residency training.

ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 3, B

If the exam is given remotely, how are proctors identified and selected?

-Candidates, whose ACVAA Examination applications have been approved, submit their Proctor Nomination form to the Executive Secretary for distribution to the President Elect and the Exam Committee. Three proctor candidates are to be identified by the exam candidate.

-Criteria used to assess the proctors include the following:

  1. Membership in a boarded specialty: In order to qualify as a proctor the person must be boarded in a specialty recognized by the ABVS or equivalent European organization.
  2. A proctor must have no conflict of interest with the candidate and the outcome of the exam. The Committee defines a conflict of interest to be present when a proctor:

-Is closely related to the candidate (eg spouse, family member)
-Has a close intimate relationship with the candidate, regardless of whether there is also a professional relationship
-Has a close friendship with the candidate and or the candidate’s family, without a professional relationship. In this case the proctor may only know the candidate outside of the work or training environment and is primarily invested in the candidate’s success.
-Will gain personally or financially from the candidate passing or failing the exam.

What can be appealed?

Any adverse decision by the ACVAA towards a candidate in regards to credentialing, exam outcome, or examination limits can be appealed.

ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 4

What are the grounds for appeal?

Grounds for appeal include:

  1. evidence of the disregard by the ACVAA of its established criteria for certification.
  2. Failure for the ACVAA to follow its stated procedures.
  3. documentation of evidence that the exam content, administration or grading was arbitrary and capricious.
  4. documentation of specific individual bias in content, administration or grading of the exam.

Disagreement with the content of the examination is not grounds for appeal.

ACVAA Appeals Committee Policies & Procedures

How does a candidate lodge an appeal?

A written petition must be filed with the ACVAA Executive Secretary to include a statement of the grounds for reconsideration and any supporting documentation.

ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 4

What is the deadline for an appeal?

A written petition of appeal of an adverse decision must be filed within 30 days of the date on which the Credentials or Examination Committee announces its decision or within 30 days of the date on which either Committee advises the affected person of the availability of this appeals process, whichever is later.

ACVAA Bylaws, Article I, Section 4

Whose responsibility is it to make sure that a candidate’s contact information is correct and up-to-date?

It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure they can be contacted by the ACVAA

Whose responsibility is to inform the ACVAA about whether a candidate plans to re-attempt the exam after a failure?

The candidate must inform the ACVAA Executive Secretary by the appropriate deadlines each year.

 


Documents and References used in this site

Document Last Updated
ACVAA Constitution & Bylaws 2019 – bylaws amendment approved
ACVAA Examination Committee Policies & Procedures 2018
ACVAA Credentials Committee Policies & Procedures 2020
ACVAA Appeals Committee Policies & Procedures 2020
ACVAA Residency Training Standards 2017

 

last updated 11/20/2021 by KG