Veterinary technicians are adept at educating clients, but now they’re banding together to take on a greater task that requires informing the public and entire veterinary profession.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America has two goals: Create a national standardized credential and establish a single title. The suggested term, although not finalized, is “registered veterinary nurse,” just as is used in the U.K. and Australia.
Kenichiro Yagi and Heather Prendergast, who co-chair NAVTA’s National Credential Task Force, gave a presentation during AVMA Convention 2016 about the association’s efforts thus far and plans.
Right now, four titles exist for credentialed technicians, and 13 states don’t require veterinary technicians to even be credentialed. In addition, states vary in their education and maintenance requirements for credentialed technicians as well as in their scope of practice. Some states do not have veterinary technicians included in their veterinary practice act.
How many people ask you what you do when you give your title? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve explained that it’s like a nurse, and they reply, ‘Then why don’t you call yourselves that?’
Heather Prendergast co-chair, NAVTA’s National Credential Task Force
Prendergast said that standardizing the title for individuals meeting credentialing requirements and standardizing the maintenance of credentialing would lead to elevated professional standards, quality assurance, a better chance of establishing reciprocity of credentials, and veterinary consumer protection.
The standardized term comes from the desire to have an accurate and recognizable professional title, Prendergast said. “How many people ask you what you do when you give your title?” she asked. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve explained that it’s like a nurse, and they reply, ‘Then why don’t you call yourselves that?’”
NAVTA is spending this year gathering information, planning strategy, and talking to stakeholders. For example, a recent survey of veterinary technician leaders by NAVTA showed that 97.3 percent were in favor of national standardized credential requirements and 73.3 percent were in favor of changing their title to “veterinary nurse” (see story).
The 2016 NAVTA demographic survey also asked questions about a national standardized credential requirement. Ninety percent of respondents said it was important to them, and the same percentage agreed that a standard or same title was important. Fifty-four percent said they preferred veterinary nurse, 38 percent wanted veterinary technician, and 8 percent were undecided. Among those employed as veterinary technicians, 83.4 percent indicated being credentialed, while 11.6 percent are noncredentialed, and 3.5 percent identified as veterinary assistants.
In October, the association will send a different survey related to the proposed changes. The survey is intended to get feedback from the entire profession, including veterinarians, practice managers, and veterinary technicians and assistants, credentialed or not. It will be open for responses for a few months.
Yagi said, “As the national leader of veterinary technicians, we want to be able to say this is the direction we’re going, but we won’t do that until we get feedback on what everyone feels. That’s why we’re taking this year to really determine that.”
In addition, NAVTA is conducting webinars for veterinary technician leaders and for members of the veterinary profession so they may gain more information on the issues as well as learn about progress made to date.
Next year, the association hopes to start implementing the initiative to adopt a standardized credential and official terminology. As part of its efforts, NAVTA would like to harmonize the veterinary technician portions of the three model practice acts from the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, AVMA, and NAVTA.
Then, taking into consideration the positions of veterinary technician associations, VMAs, state legislators, and human nurses in each state, NAVTA will focus on the states most receptive toward amending their veterinary practice acts in defining the terminology, scope of practice, and more for veterinary technicians.
“Creating communication between the veterinary technician associations and VMAs and figuring out where we can coordinate discussion so we can have a united front at the state level for the practice act, education, and feedback will be important,” Prendergast said.“
Anyone interested in more information about NAVTA’s veterinary nurse initiative or volunteering to help with association’s efforts can send an email to vetnursenavta [dot] net or visit the website.
Related JAVMA content:
Technician shortage may be a problem of turnover instead (Oct. 15, 2016)
Technicians pushing for new name: veterinary nurse (April 15, 2016)
Taking the pulse (Oct. 15, 2013)