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June 01, 2021

Veterinary technician tasks outlined in model regulation

Published on May 12, 2021

American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) logoThe American Association of Veterinary State Boards has created a template for states to use as a resource when considering changes to their rules and regulations regarding veterinary technicians.

“The Model Regulation—Scope of Practice for Veterinary Technicians and Veterinary Technologists,” released this past December, includes a definition of what a supervising veterinarian is and tasks that can be performed by a veterinary technician under various supervision levels.

“The AAVSB’s Practice Act Model already defines supervision-related terms,” said Cathy Kirkpatrick, chair of the AAVSB Regulatory Policy Task Force, in a press release. “What this new model regulation provides is the desired distinction of which allowable animal health care tasks credentialed veterinary technicians or nurses and veterinary technologists may perform within each level of veterinary supervision—immediate, direct, and indirect.”

Ed Carlson, president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America and a certified veterinary technician, said the association fully supports the model regulation.

“NAVTA was proud to have been a part of the working group that helped update the regulations, which we believe will help create clarity and direction for the profession,” Carlson said. “While we know and understand that adoption of the model regulations is completely voluntary by the states, the current veterinary technician credentials and credentialing systems, which vary from state to state, have led to confusion for the veterinary consumer, as well as within the veterinary profession. This clear definition of a scope of practice is a good step in clearing up that confusion.”

The following are some examples of the definitions and tasks outlined in the model regulation:

  • Immediate supervision means the supervising veterinarian is within audible and visual range of the patient and the individual treating the patient. In this scenario, veterinary technicians can perform tasks such as assisting a veterinarian with surgical procedures or placing tubes.
  • Direct supervision means the supervising veterinarian is near where the patient is being treated. Under this supervision, veterinary technicians can engage in tasks such as general anesthesia and sedation, ear flushing with pressure, suturing, and euthanasia.
  • Indirect supervision means the supervising veterinarian is not on the premises but has given written or oral instruction for treatment of the patient. In this case, veterinary technicians may undertake tasks such as diagnostic imaging, clinical laboratory test procedures, and administration of treatments.

The model regulation, including the full task list, is available in PDF format.

Although AAVSB member boards make their own regulatory decisions on the basis of their state laws, these guidelines are meant to help in the development of new rules and regulations.