California state law previously allowed for all veterinarians employed by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) to be exempt from holding a license under the California Veterinary Medicine Practice Act. This exemption also applied to veterinarians employed by the State or Federal Government and working in California, and also to the only other veterinary school in the state, Western University. Most state and academic veterinary institutions around the country have this same policy. 

The fact that UC Davis veterinarians were not required to hold state licenses did not mean they were under qualified. Instead, it allowed the institution to recruit and retain the best veterinarians from all over the world, whereas a full licensure requirement that included state board examination and the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates would have crippled UC Davis' ability to do this. The UC Davis veterinary hospital offers the most comprehensive specialty patient care of any academic teaching hospital in the country, with more than 30 disciplines. Most of its faculty veterinarians have advanced clinical training and are specialty board certified in disciplines approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s American Board of Veterinary Specialties.

In January 2017, licensure became required for veterinarians who participate in patient care within California universities. In order to overcome recruitment hurdles associated with the licensure requirement, administrators from the UC Davis and Western University worked with the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) to develop a University Veterinary License (UVL). Veterinarians are issued a UVL after they attend the 26-hour California Licensing Curriculum (CLC), receive a background check, and pass the CVMB Veterinary Licensing Examination.

In early 2017, the hospital established a taskforce to develop a CLC that could be delivered on-site to faculty and house officers, which was chaired by Chief Veterinary Medical Officer Dr. Jane Sykes, and included Drs. Lane Johnson, Joan Dean Rowe, Joie Watson and Bret McNabb. The curriculum was approved by the CVMB on May 25, 2017.

On June 1-3, 2017, dozens of faculty members and house officers took the CLC, which was delivered by 12 prominent veterinarians from both within and outside the SVM. The curriculum was offered again to UC Davis veterinarians on August 3-5, 2017, and on an annual basis electronically to incoming house officers and faculty.

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