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October 01, 2012

 
CONVENTION COVERAGE

 Veterinary technicians hold town hall meeting

Posted on September 19, 2012
 
The role of veterinary assistants and the increase in the number of veterinary technology programs were among the topics during the Technician Town Hall Meeting on Aug. 7 at the AVMA Annual Convention.

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America hosted the event, with Elanco Animal Health as the sponsor. The participants were NAVTA leaders and various veterinary technicians; the moderator was Dr. Tony Rumschlag, Elanco director of technical consultants and a past member of the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.
 
Julie Legred, immediate past president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, speaks during the Technician Town Hall Meeting at the AVMA Annual Convention.
Photo by Katie Burns
 
One of the first topics of discussion was a relatively new NAVTA initiative. In late 2010, NAVTA established a program to approve educational programs for veterinary assistants. Graduates of approved programs who pass a national examination become approved veterinary assistants.

Dr. Rumschlag said being a veterinary assistant is a career path, not necessarily a road to becoming a veterinary technician. “This is an alternative for those individuals that really have a passion for being involved in veterinary medicine.”

Andrea Ball, NAVTA executive director, said NAVTA board members view the approval program partly as a way to delineate the role of a veterinary assistant.

“What they have seen in their professional lives is a lot of assistants didn’t really have a proper and recognized place in the profession,” Ball said.

Ball said the intent is to ensure that educational programs for veterinary assistants teach the skills necessary for veterinary assistants, but not skills that are the purview of veterinary technicians.

After the meeting, Ball reiterated that “NAVTA has found a way to make sure that the lines between a veterinary assistant and a veterinary technician aren’t blurred.”

As of late August, NAVTA had approved 11 veterinary assistant programs. At that time, 200 graduates of approved programs had become approved veterinary assistants.

During the town hall meeting, members of the audience also raised the subject of the increasing number of veterinary technology programs.

Julie Legred, NAVTA immediate past president and a past member of the CVTEA, said the CVTEA cannot turn down programs that meet the standards. She said the CVTEA has approved more than 200 programs in all, with about 20 new programs on the calendar for next year.

Audience members spoke about the varying availability of veterinary technology programs across the country.
“There are some areas that are just overinundated with vet tech programs, and then there are some areas where there is nothing,” Legred agreed.

Dr. Rumschlag concluded the discussion by asking how NAVTA can provide better continuing education. Audience members said they would like to see CE on certain topics ranging from rabies prevention to career transitions. Ball noted that the NAVTA Annual Conference in November will feature a panel on career options.