Technicians pushing for new name: veterinary nurse

NAVTA also wants a national standard for credentialing
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The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America is starting a “veterinary nurse initiative” this year that would rename veterinary technicians as veterinary nurses. The initiative includes trying to establish a national standard for credentialing.

The proposed timeline for the next five to 10 years is for NAVTA to enact such sweeping changes that they would require each state to revise its veterinary practice act. NAVTA says it will spend 2016 researching the best options, consulting with attorneys, professional organizations, and legislatures along with global, national, and state VMAs. The association will then develop a strategic plan on the basis of feedback from these entities, according to NAVTA’s position statement on the term “veterinary nurse.” 

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America would like to use the term “veterinary nurse” as a standardized title in all 50 states, just as it is used in the U.K. and Australia, for example, in addition to a standard that would be set in all 50 states for maintenance of credentials.

The end goal is to work with the AVMA, other professional veterinary organizations, and legislators “to create common terminology, practice acts, policies, and procedures to ease the burden that could be placed on individual states and associations in credential governance,” says the statement.

Specifically, NAVTA would like to use the term “veterinary nurse” as a standardized title in all 50 states, just as it is used in the U.K. and Australia, for example, in addition to a standard that would be set in all 50 states for maintenance of credentials.

Preliminary survey results from the 2016 NAVTA member survey indicate that 97.3 percent of those polled support a national standardized credential, and 73.3 percent support NAVTA campaigning for a title change from “veterinary technician” to “veterinary nurse.” More survey results will be released this summer.

For years, NAVTA has encouraged members to work with their state legislatures, especially those with practice acts that do not include licensure for veterinary technicians, resulting in no distinction between a credentialed technician and a noncredentialed one, who is essentially an assistant. Credentialed technicians generally have gone through a two- or four-year program accredited by the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities and have taken the Veterinary Technician National Examination.

Results of the 2011 NAVTA survey revealed that 15 percent of veterinary technicians were trained not in school but informally on the job. Credentialed technicians were almost evenly split, with one-third being licensed, one-third registered, and one-third certified, depending on the state.

Dennis Lopez, a former NAVTA president, told JAVMA in 2013, “It’s frustrating, because these (credentialed) people have worked hard for their education, gone to conferences, and gotten continuing education, and yet, someone can get hired right off the street, and according to the law (in some states), can do the same advanced skills.”

NAVTA says in its position statement, “The current credentialing systems, which vary state to state, have led to confusion for the veterinary consumer and within the veterinary profession. Establishing a single and standard title is the first step in the process to clarify the important role of the profession and provide enhanced patient care. Pets and pet owners are best protected and cared for by formally trained and credentialed veterinary nurses.”

In 2011, the AVMA revised its Model Veterinary Practice Act to address the Association’s views of veterinary boards’ authority over veterinary technicians and the credentials needed for such technicians. The document says, “No person may practice veterinary technology in the State who is not a veterinary technician or technologist credentialed by the Board. A veterinary technician or technologist who performs veterinary technology contrary to this Act shall be subject to disciplinary actions in a manner consistent with the provisions of this Act applicable to veterinarians. Credentialed veterinary technicians and technologists shall be required to complete continuing education as prescribed by rule to renew their credentials.”

Commentary from the Model Veterinary Practice Act also clearly states, “If credentialing of unlicensed assistants and certified non-veterinarian practitioners continues to increase and evolve in the future, the AVMA may need to study how the MVPA should treat the use and activities of these non-licensed individuals.” To view the model practice act, visit here.

This year, NAVTA will update its own Model Practice Act and speak with leaders in the veterinary profession regarding credentialing. “The states without credentialing may want to step into the conversation at the national level,” according to the “NAVTA Veterinary Nurse FAQ.”

Related JAVMA content:

Taking the pulse (Oct. 15, 2013)

AVMA updates model practice act (March 1, 2012)