Frequently Asked Questions

What is VSTEP?
VSTEP is a joint venture of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO), the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) and the Ontario Veterinary College of the University of Guelph (OVC). VSTEP wishes to be the primary source of education and re-training for internationally educated veterinarians striving to meet Ontario’s licensing requirements. VSTEP will produce highly desirable and employable graduates who will achieve practice success at a level that meets or exceeds Ontario standards.
Who can apply to the Veterinary Skills Training and Enhancement Program?
All internationally trained veterinarians who have passed either the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) or the Basic and Clinical Sciences Exam (BCSE) are welcome to apply. International veterinary graduates who have passed the Qualifying Examination (QE) of the PAVE may also apply.
Are there any internationally trained veterinarians not required to take these exams?
Veterinarians who have graduated from veterinary schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are not required to take the BCSE or the CPE. All are required to take the NAVLE.
Which schools are accredited by the AVMA?
All veterinary schools in Canada and the USA are currently accredited, as are those of the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands, the University of London in England, The Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland, Massey University in New Zealand, the Universities of Sydney, Queensland and Melbourne and Murdoch University in Australia, Mexico City, Ross University in St. Kitts, St. George’s University in Grenada, as well as University College Dublin in Ireland.
What is the BCSE?
The BCSE is a written examination of 200 multiple choice questions administered by computer. It measures the general knowledge base of candidates in the areas of anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, toxicology, pathology, medicine, surgery, anesthesia, diagnostics and preventive medicine. The BCSE requires less than four hours to complete.
What is PAVE?
The Program for Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence was designed to evaluate the education equivalence of foreign veterinary graduates (graduates of non-accredited veterinary programs outside the US and Canada) on behalf of participating AAVSB Member Boards.
Can I get a licence to practice veterinary medicine if I pass the PAVE?
Currently, 39 state in the U.S. recognize PAVE as well as the countries of Australia and New Zealand.
How can I apply to write the BCSE?
For more information on the BCSE, contact either the National Examining Board (NEB) of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association or the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) in the United States.
Do applicants need to have passed an English proficiency test also?
Yes. The English proficiency test passed in order to be eligible to write the BCSE and/or the NAVLE meets the requirements.
What training is available to help me study for the BCSE?
The ECFVG offers suggestions as to appropriate references to prepare for the BCSE. VSTEP does not endorse any BCSE preparation program.
Do I have to pass the BCSE before applying for the VSTEP?
No. If you intend to write the BCSE before the program start date of May 1, 2017 and are interested in a spot in this year’s program, contact Jennifer Thurtell and submit an application.
What is the NAVLE?
The NAVLE is a written examination of 360 multiple choice questions administered by computer. It measures the general knowledge base of candidates in the various scientific disciplines which are required in veterinary medicine. The NAVLE requires one full day to complete.
What is the CPE?
The Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE) is a practical "hands-on" examination to assess technical skills. It takes three to five days to complete and is offered several times a year at sites in Canada and the United States. Following successful completion of the BCSE applicants may next attempt the NAVLE and the CPE. The order is up to each applicant. Those who have already passed the NAVLE must next attempt the CPE and need not complete the BCSE. In any case, applicants must first register with either the NEB or the ECFVG. These organizations will advise applicants as to the requirements for licensure based on their individual circumstances.
Where are the five Canadian colleges of veterinary medicine?
These include the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) located at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) located at the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire located at the University of Montreal, St-Hyacinthe, Québec, and the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) located at the University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) located at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta.
Is the CPE offered anywhere else?
Yes, the CPE is offered at many Universities in the United States and at a dedicated site affiliated with the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. In Canada it is offered at four of the five schools of veterinary medicine. It is not currently offered at the University of Guelph and is instead offered at Seneca College.
If I participate in VSTEP, are there any restrictions on where I can take the CPE?
Once I pass the NAVLE, can I apply for a licence?
If you graduated from a veterinary school that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, you can apply for a licence. If not, you must pass the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE).
What language must I use for the NAVLE and the CPE?
English or French only. The CPE is available in French at the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire (St-Hyacinthe, Québec), usually during two sessions per year.
How long must I wait to sit the CPE?
The waiting period in the United States is approximately 9 months while the waiting period in Canada is approximately 24 months.
What is the cost of sitting the CPE?
Contact the National Examining Board for current prices.
Can I apply for a licence once I have passed the CPE?
Applicants for licensure must pass both the NAVLE and the CPE before applying for licensure.
Is VSTEP a CPE preparation course?
Although it is recognized that the CPE is necessary for licensure, VSTEP is designed to prepare internationally educated veterinarians for a rewarding and successful career in veterinary medicine and not simply to pass the CPE. VSTEP will also help participants prepare for the NAVLE if they have not yet passed this exam.
What will I learn from VSTEP?
At the conclusion of the VSTEP participants will demonstrate general entry-level competence in the provision of primary veterinary care including an ability to collect a medical history, develop a diagnostic plan, interpret findings and manage common primary care cases. Participants will be proficient at medical records management and exercise sound professional judgment all with an underpinning of strong communication skills.

The program will focus on specific technical skills in the areas of anesthesia and analgesia, common surgical procedures, post-mortem examinations, interpretation of common ancillary tests, understanding the classes of drugs used to treat and prevent common disorders, the performance and interpretation of common forms of radiographic study, physical examination techniques and have an understanding of the regulatory environment for Ontario veterinarians.

How long will it take to complete the VSTEP?
VSTEP 2017 will consist of approximately 470 hours of labs and lectures scheduled to run from May 1 st to September 1 st Upon conclusion of these academic modules, participants will be provided with up to 20 days of practical field experience and field surgical opportunities throughout the months of September and October.
Is there an application fee for VSTEP?
No, there is no charge to apply to the program. Upon acceptance into the program a non-refundable security deposit of $750 will be required.
Where will the VSTEP course be offered?
The classroom lecture and laboratory components will be offered in Guelph,Ontario. The field placement experience will be offered all over the province of Ontario. Consideration will be given to out of province field placement opportunities.
Can I continue to work while I am enrolled in VSTEP?
VSTEP lectures and labs will be scheduled during weekdays as well as some evenings and weekends. It will be extremely challenging to maintain employment during the program.
Is there a selection process for potential candidates?
Yes. Enrollment is competitive. Applicants will be ranked and selections will be based on the information provided in the application forms and / or interviews.
Can internationally trained veterinarians living outside of Ontario apply to VSTEP?
Yes. All internationally trained veterinarians who have passed either the BCSE, NAVLE or the QE (PAVE) are welcome to apply for the program.
Do I have to sign anything to be involved in the course?
Yes. VSTEP participants are required to sign a contract with both the program and with field placement practitioners. The contract will outline the expectations and responsibilities of both the program and the participants.
Will I be granted a licence if I complete the VSTEP?
Veterinarians who have successfully completed VSTEP and have passed the NAVLE can apply for a restricted licence with the CVO. Those who have passed the BCSE and successfully completed VSTEP must pass the NAVLE before the CVO will issue a restricted licence.
What can I do with a restricted licence?
A restricted licence permits employment as a veterinarian under the supervision of another licenced veterinarian. The holder of the restricted licence may continue to develop their skills while waiting to sit the CPE.
How much will it cost to enroll in VSTEP 2016?
Tuition for Canadian Permanent Residents and Canadian Citizens residing in Ontario is $12,995. Tuition for Canadian Permanent Residents and Canadian Citizens residing outside of Ontario is $14,995. Tuition for non-Canadians is $18,995. All participants are required to pay $995 for materials. VSTEP fees are subject to a 13% Harmonized Sales Tax.
Are there any financial resources available to VSTEP participants?
Yes. VSTEP can provide you with further information on available sources of financing
Will there be any other costs?
Yes. Participants will be charged $995 for materials. There may also be additional costs for textbooks and other learning materials. Field placements will occur throughout Ontario. Costs incurred for accommodation during the course component and field placements will be the responsibility of the participant.
Will I need a computer?
VSTEP participants must have use of a computer with access to the internet and a printer.
How many will be admitted to VSTEP 2017?
The VSTEP 2017 cohort will have in the order of 24 participants.
Will I need to relocate for VSTEP?
Labs and lectures will be offered in May, June, July and August at the University of Guelph. Field placements will be offered during September and/or October. Accommodation and transportation are the responsibility of the participant. Relocation to Guelph for the labs and lecture component is highly recommended.
Is there accommodation available in Guelph?
Yes. There are a number of sublets available in Guelph in the summer months which can be searched using the link:
Will I need any vaccinations?
Yes. Proof of a RABIES RRFIT SEROLOGY titre greater than or equal to 0.5 IU/ml OR an original medical note verifying receipt of at least three rabies vaccinations must be provided prior to participation in the program.