To improve utilization of veterinary technicians, an AVMA task force has identified potential solutions in the areas of education, licensing and regulation, economics, supply and attrition, and wellness.
While meeting Jan. 9 in Chicago, the AVMA Board of Directors received the final report of the AVMA Task Force on Veterinary Technician Utilization. The Board referred the report to the AVMA Council on Veterinary Service, AVMA–National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America Leadership Committee, AVMA Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee, AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities, and other entities as appropriate for their consideration.
The task force made the following recommendations:
- The AVMA should conduct a census of credentialed veterinary technician staff at AVMA Council on Education–accredited veterinary colleges.
- The COE, in consultation with the CVTEA, should establish a requirement for the use of credentialed veterinary technicians in veterinary teaching hospitals at COE-accredited veterinary colleges.
- The COE should encourage COE-accredited veterinary colleges to develop or host accredited programs in veterinary technology in consultation with the CVTEA.
- The AVMA and COE should utilize and promote the use of consistent and correct nomenclature throughout promotional and educational materials, demographic studies, and accreditation documents to clarify that a “veterinary technician” is a graduate of a CVTEA-accredited program in veterinary technology who has passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam and any relevant state examination required to obtain and maintain credentialing as a veterinary technician.
- The AVMA should produce and promote educational products targeted at veterinarians that highlight the value credentialed veterinary technicians bring to practice, including increased profitability and practice efficiency, and that demonstrate how increased utilization of credentialed veterinary technicians can be implemented in practice.
- The AVMA should launch an ongoing public relations campaign to educate the public on the education required to become a credentialed veterinary technician, the credentialed veterinary technician’s role on the veterinary health care team, and the continuing education required to legally maintain the credential and provide high-quality patient care.
- The AVMA should create a “seat at the table” that fully acknowledges the model of the veterinary health care team by adding credentialed veterinary technician members to the AVMA House of Delegates and additional volunteer entities.
- The AVMA should mirror NAVTA associate memberships available to veterinarians by establishing an AVMA associate membership available to credentialed veterinary technicians.
Licensing and regulation
- The AVMA, in collaboration with NAVTA and the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, should revise and align model practice acts and rules to define, recognize, and regulate the practice of veterinary technology.
- The AVMA should create written information and presentations to educate state veterinary boards, state VMAs, and state veterinary technician associations and actively encourage all states to adopt credentialing requirements for veterinary technicians that include scope of practice and title protection.
- The AVMA should encourage states to eliminate alternative routes to credentialing, so-called “grandfather” clauses, from state practice acts.
- The AVMA should partner with NAVTA and other leaders in veterinary technology to survey credentialed veterinary technicians annually or biennially using intentional terminology and clear descriptors to measure demographics, compensation, and utilization.
- The AVMA should conduct a study similar to the one conducted by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians to demonstrate the value that well-utilized credentialed veterinary technicians add to practice income.
- The AVMA should evaluate the effect that traditional benchmarks have on compensation of credentialed veterinary technicians and consider leading the discussion on establishing new metrics, key performance indicators, and benchmarks for practice management.
- The AVMA should examine other health professions for comparable practice models—eg, dental hygienists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants—and use that information to help drive improved utilization of credentialed veterinary technicians.
- The AVMA should expand surveys and investigations to include other categories of careers for credentialed veterinary technicians in areas such as equine medicine, production medicine, education, specialty practice, and consultation.
Availability and attrition
- The AVMA should conduct a nationwide survey of veterinarians, using intentional terminology and clear descriptors, to determine how many credentialed veterinary technicians versus veterinary assistants are employed in various practice types.
- The AVMA should use existing and newly acquired data on the demographics of credentialed veterinary technicians to evaluate supply-and-demand issues.
- The AVMA should conduct a survey of credentialed veterinary technicians who have left veterinary medicine to determine why they left, how long they stayed, and what steps could be taken to decrease the rate of attrition.
- The AVMA should provide support for ongoing research on mental health issues for credentialed veterinary technicians and other members of the support team, such as veterinary assistants and customer service representatives.
- The AVMA should encourage inclusion and implementation of the AVMA Model Program for Wellness at the state level.
- The AVMA should collaborate with and support the NAVTA Wellbeing Task Force, collaborate with and support NAVTA in the creation of the Student Chapters of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America Wellbeing Committee, and encourage a partnership between the SCNAVTA Wellbeing Committee and Student AVMA Wellbeing Committee.
- The AVMA should expand the AVMA Wellbeing Summit to include issues specific to credentialed veterinary technicians and other support staff members.
- The AVMA should convene a summit with key stakeholders to assess the efficacy of efforts to improve utilization of veterinary technicians, aid planning for future efforts, and chart a path to optimize the model of the veterinary health care team.