AAHA has never been afraid of change. If there has been one constant theme that has defined this association over the past 80+ years, it has been a willingness to continually evolve and ensure that we are best serving our accredited members. Accreditation is at the core of what AAHA does—it is what we are passionate about, what we are best in the world at, and what drives our economic engine.

For years, we have included a separate membership category that has allowed hospital membership for hospitals that are not accredited. We tried to be inclusive and it resulted in trying to offer everything to everyone. In doing this, AAHA inadvertently created confusion in the marketplace for what constitutes an “AAHA member hospital”. Over time, we came to realize that we could not be everything to everyone. We need to hold true to our priorities.

Over the next two years, AAHA will transition to an accredited-only hospital membership model. Our goal is to transition all nonaccredited hospitals to accredited status by June 30, 2018. Individual practice team members from nonaccredited hospitals will still have the opportunity to be members of AAHA, but we will no longer recognize nonaccredited practice teams.

Why? Our accreditation program is our foundation—and your AAHA board of directors and staff are laser focused on our strategic priorities all of which revolve around accreditation. We continually evaluate all we do to ensure that we are staying true to our priorities and best serving our accredited members. This change reflects our pledge to keep accreditation and our accredited members at the forefront of all we do.

We know that there are countless nonaccredited hospitals practicing excellent medicine—we want you to join us! We personally invite each of you to join the ranks of accredited members who are dedicated to delivering excellent care for pets. AAHA will be here to help you along the way. We have a host of resources available to help you understand the accreditation evaluation process and how you can become AAHA accredited. Check out aaha.org/becomeaccredited to learn more, or email Practice Accreditation at [email protected].

We invite you to join us as we expand and strengthen our community of veterinary practice teams who are dedicated to providing excellent care. Together, we will elevate the standard of veterinary medicine and provide pets with the care they deserve.

Nancy Soares, VMD
AAHA president 2016-2017

Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP (C/F)
AAHA chief executive officer


AAHA Membership Transition FAQs

What is the change to the AAHA membership model?

  • AAHA is transitioning to an accredited-only hospital membership model. By June 30, 2018, all AAHA member hospitals will be accredited.

Why is this change being made?

  • Accreditation by AAHA is the foundation of the American Animal Hospital Association. By including a separate category that allowed hospital membership for those that were not accredited, AAHA inadvertently created confusion in the marketplace for what constitutes an “AAHA member hospital”. We hope this change will eliminate that confusion in the market place and clarify what it means to be an “AAHA member hospital”. All hospital members will be accredited members by June 30, 2018.

How was this decision made?

  • Over the past year, AAHA staff have been working on a plan to execute the transition to an accredited team hospital membership model. The AAHA Board of Directors approved the transition at the June 2016 board meeting.

What does this mean for nonaccredited AAHA member hospitals?

  • Nonaccredited practices will have until July 1, 2017 to enter into an agreement to become an AAHA-accredited practice or have a contact at the practice become an individual member.

Why should a nonaccredited hospital become accredited?

  • Due to AAHA’s outreach to pet owners in recent years, more pet owners are beginning to use accreditation as a determining factor in where they take their pet for care. AAHA accreditation sets hospitals apart from competitors. AAHA believes everyone on the practice team is important; we know that the accreditation process creates stronger practice teams at all levels.

What does this mean for hospitals wishing to join AAHA as a nonaccredited member?

  • As of July 1, 2016, AAHA is no longer accepting new nonaccredited hospital members.

Will AAHA still offer individual memberships?

  • Yes. AAHA will still offer individual memberships.

What is the timeline for this change?

  • July 1, 2016: Nonaccredited team category is frozen. No additional nonaccredited team memberships are added to this category. New practice team members will have the choice to become an individual member or enter into an agreement in a new, pre-accreditation category.
  • July 1, 2017: Nonaccredited practices that have not switched voluntarily will receive a letter from AAHA. Any nonaccredited practices that have not switched voluntarily will have owner/medical director converted to individual membership.
  • June 30, 2018: Membership model transition is complete. All AAHA member practices are AAHA accredited.

Ready to pursue accreditation? Email Practice Accreditation at [email protected] to get started, or visit aaha.org/becomeaccredited.

Comments (4) -

Melissa Gates
Melissa GatesUnited States
10/28/2016 9:15:34 AM #

I agree with this decision:  our AAHA accreditation is important to us, and it should be recognized and valued by the association and the general public.  

Ewen McMillan
Ewen McMillanAustralia
10/28/2016 4:34:05 PM #

As a long standing AAHA member with an Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association Accredited Hospital, since 1989, patterned on the AAHA model, where does that leave us? Will there be membership available to facilities such as ours, as there is recognition of foreign degrees deemed to comply with US standards? Thanks Ewen

Pam Bergeron, LVT, CVPM
Pam Bergeron, LVT, CVPMUnited States
10/31/2016 10:38:26 AM #

I think this is acceptable under the following circumstance:  AAHA revises/improves the mandatory anesthesia standard for dentals.  I think a lot of progress has been made towards differentiating a veterinary-supervised procedure vs. the "clean your teeth" model.  I think having guidelines for what is acceptable is necessary and it should be back to a point system.  What you should make mandatory is dental x-rays during an anesthetic dental procedure.  This is a far more important procedure to the health of the patient and should always be done on every patient during cleanings, extractions, etc.

Kate Wessels, AAHA senior manager of communications
Kate Wessels, AAHA senior manager of communicationsUnited States
11/4/2016 3:01:54 PM #

Melissa and Pam: Thank you for sharing your feedback. We will share both of your comments with the AAHA Board of Directors.

Ewen: I will circulate your question internally and follow up via email.

Thank you!

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