The Evaluation: What to Expect

The final stage in the AAHA accreditation process is the practice evaluation – conducted on-site or virtually. The accreditation process signifies that the practice has met or exceeded AAHA standards, the only standards for veterinary facilities in the United States and Canada. More than 4,500 practices have joined AAHA as an accredited practice, willingly striving to meet a higher standard of care for their patients and raising the bar for the profession. Practice evaluations take place to establish accreditation and then at regular intervals to maintain your accreditation.

Scheduling your initial evaluation

When you join AAHA to seek accreditation, you’ll set a target date to complete your practice evaluation, typically two to six months after you sign the member agreement. Once you’ve completed the initial six steps on your journey towards becoming an AAHA-accredited member, your dedicated practice consultant will conduct an evaluation of your facility, either virtually or onsite. Here’s what to expect.

Questions related to evaluations


Isn’t AAHA accreditation expensive?

AAHA accreditation is an investment in your practice. The value you’ll receive from accreditation—including improved patient care, client service, and staff satisfaction—will be worth far more than your annual dues. And, contrary to popular belief, meeting the AAHA Standards of Accreditation does not require you to hire more team members or purchase expensive technology.

Check out the video below for more information on the cost of AAHA accreditation.

How many standards does AAHA have?

The AAHA Standards of Accreditation contain more than 900 standards, but only about 50 of them are mandatory; the remaining standards are assessed using a points-based system.

Check out the video below for more information on the AAHA Standards of Accreditation.

Do I have to have credentialed technicians on staff to achieve AAHA accreditation?

While AAHA recognizes the commitment, skills, and knowledge that credentialed technicians provide, employing credentialed technicians is not a requirement for your practice to become accredited.

How will I know if my practice is ready to become accredited?

Answering the questions in the online evaluation tool is one of the best ways to see where your practice stands. The online evaluation tool includes tips and resources, outlines and guides for creating protocols, and automatically adds your points as you go so you can track your progress.

Access online evaluation

What is the process for becoming accredited?

  • To begin the accreditation process and be designated as a “preaccredited practice,” simply contact AAHA’s Member Experience team at 800-252-2242.
  • You will be asked to complete the AAHA preaccredited application agreement and pay an initial accreditation evaluation fee of $675. This fee covers the cost of your first onsite evaluation. Your membership dues cover all subsequent evaluation costs (and provide many additional benefits as well).
  • Then, your practice will be provided with a complimentary team membership, valid for up to six months or until the date of your evaluation, whichever comes first. You can begin working through your online evaluation tool.
  • You will also be assigned a dedicated accreditation specialist and a dedicated practice consultant, who will support you and your team throughout the accreditation process and act as a resource for any questions you may have.
  • Your accreditation specialist will work with you and your practice consultant to schedule your first evaluation.

Can I review AAHA’s Standards of Accreditation or access the evaluation tool without becoming an AAHA member?

The AAHA Standards of Accreditation are copyrighted and exclusively available to AAHA-accredited and preaccredited members.

If you aren’t currently an AAHA member but are interested in pursuing AAHA accreditation, we can grant you access to AAHA's online evaluation tool; just reach out to us at [email protected]. The online evaluation tool has additional tips and resources to help you get started, and is the best way to see how your practice compares to AAHA’s standards.

Request access to online evaluation

Can I schedule a courtesy walkthrough of my practice with a practice consultant?

Yes! Courtesy visits are a great opportunity to ask your practice consultant for guidance on how to successfully meet AAHA’s standards and to begin working on the process of becoming accredited. These visits are offered with no strings attached and at no charge.

Request a courtesy visit

What’s the timeframe for scheduling my first evaluation?

We will work with you to determine a timeframe based on when you believe you’ll be ready for your first evaluation (typically three to four months). We will make every effort to work with you and accommodate your goals for becoming accredited.

I am building a new practice. What AAHA standards should I reference?

The AAHA Standards of Accreditation include a number of structural standards that are helpful to reference when building a new practice. Please contact us to request these structural standards.

You can also check out Practical Guide to Veterinary Hospital Design: From Renovations to New Builds, a comprehensive, easy-to-follow guide to planning, designing, and building a successful hospital.

Request structural standards

Does AAHA review blueprints for new practices?

Absolutely! AAHA practice consultants offer free blueprint reviews. AAHA practice consultants visit more than 100 practices every year and see a wide variety of facilities, so they can often point out things you may want to consider before your plans are finalized.

Please contact us to learn more about blueprint reviews. Or bring your blueprint to the AAHA booth at a national veterinary conference and request a review!

Request a blueprint review

How long does my practice need to be open for business before I can apply for AAHA accreditation?

AAHA recommends that your practice be open for at least three months before you pursue AAHA accreditation, but there is no minimum requirement. However, you will need to ensure that you have a sufficient number of patients, medical records, and diagnostics in order for your practice consultant to perform a thorough evaluation.

What happens if I don’t initially achieve accreditation?

Not to worry. If you are unable to achieve AAHA accreditation after your initial evaluation, your practice consultant will convert that visit into a “courtesy walkthrough,” and you won’t be penalized.

Your consultant will review any adjustments that you may need to make in order to achieve accreditation during your next visit. We will then work with you to reschedule your formal evaluation once you’ve had a chance to put your consultant’s recommendations into effect.

Virtual evaluations

Practices may opt for a virtual evaluation rather than on-site. Review our virtual evaluation checklist to prepare your practice and complete the process efficiently.

Need help?

And of course, if you have questions or need further guidance, please reach out to your dedicated practice consultant or accreditation specialist at any time.

Next: what happens after the evaluation?
Learn more about AAHA standards.