Task force created to look at better using vet techs

AVMA focuses on utilization, while Veterinary Nurse Initiative continues to pursue title change
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A task force convened by the AVMA Board of Directors will seek to develop a plan to improve veterinary technician utilization. The group, as part of its efforts, will take into account the importance of financial and career sustainability, effective task delegation, and the well-being of both veterinary technicians and practices. The group has until Dec. 31 to provide a report to the Board.

The Board unanimously gave the green light to the AVMA Task Force on Veterinary Technician Utilization at its April 11-13 meeting at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Veterinarian examining a dog's front pawThe 10 voting task force members will be a credentialed veterinary technician, a veterinary technician member of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America's Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties, a NAVTA Executive Board member, a nominee from the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators, a veterinarian member and a veterinary technician member of the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities, a veterinarian member of the AVMA Council on Veterinary Service, a Veterinary Hospital Managers Association representative, a nominee from the American Association of Veterinary State Boards' Veterinary Technician National Exam Committee, and an at-large veterinary practitioner. In addition, two nonvoting liaisons will be a member of the AVMA Board and a member of the AVMA House of Delegates, according to the recommendation. Members were to be selected by mid-May.

The HOD had discussed technician utilization during its regular winter session in January 2019. Specifically, the topic sparked discussion on how to encourage the consistent use of credentialed veterinary technicians as part of a health care team, the lack of recognition for technicians, the differences between employees trained on the job and credentialed technicians, and the high turnover rates, low job satisfaction, and low wages for technicians. Delegates then voted to recommend that the AVMA Board consider convening a task force to design a plan to improve veterinary technician utilization and that a report be shared with the HOD within a year.

The AVMA-NAVTA Leadership Committee and the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities ultimately proposed the formation of the task force to the AVMA Board. The task force will provide ideas by the end of the year on actions to be taken to enhance the use of veterinary technicians as part of the veterinary heath care team. Then, the plan is to distribute the report to the House prior to its 2020 winter meeting, according to the recommendation.

The AVMA-NAVTA Leadership Committee also proposed that the AVMA Board approve support for the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America's initiative to adopt the title "veterinary nurse." The Board unanimously postponed a vote on the recommendation indefinitely.

Three years ago now, NAVTA formed the Veterinary Nurse Initiative coalition. Its purpose is to unite the profession under a single title—registered veterinary nurse—and push for uniform credentialing requirements and a uniform definition of scope of practice.

Thus far, the VNI has yet to see a state amend its laws to change the title of "veterinary technician" to "registered veterinary nurse." Indiana, Georgia, and Ohio are the VNI's target states this year. At the end of January, Indiana Senate Bill 351 advanced out of the Committee on Agriculture but failed to pass in the full Senate by a 23-26 vote on Feb. 4.

In the Ohio House of Representatives, HB 501 made it to the floor on Dec. 6, 2018, and was passed with a clear majority of 60-28. It was then introduced in the Senate on Dec. 10 but failed to receive a vote before the end of the 2018 session. Ohio SB 131 was introduced April 18.

Finally, in Georgia, SB 76 was introduced Feb. 7 and passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee before recess on Feb. 27 on a 16-1 vote, but it failed to get out of committee before the legislature adjourned April 2.

Related JAVMA content:

Veterinary leaders concentrate on technician underutilization (March 1, 2019)

What's in a name? (Nov. 15, 2018)