Dr. Johnson: With the public, and I'm talking about the consumer, part of the problem is that nobody knows who you are. The veterinarians
are saying, "This is my nurse, this is my assistant, this is my technician." They don't know whether you're trained or not.
In California, you could be a veterinary assistant working next to a technician, and they wouldn't know the difference. The
public is going to help generate at least some interest in the profession. We've got two board members who were shocked that
their veterinarians didn't have licensed technicians in their practice. They just had assistants. The only term we have is
"nurse." People do know what a veterinary nurse would be. We've looked at it and the CVMA looked at it. Their legal opinion
was that we could not use the term. I don't understand how you can say that somebody owns the word.
Teri Raffel, CVT, president, National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
Mr. Dennis: Let's move to an area related to this: supervision. This changes dramatically across the country. Some states are highly
detailed in what scope of supervision a veterinarian must exercise over a veterinary technician, even over lay employees.
How about direct supervision versus indirect supervision? Some states refer to immediate supervision, some refer to intermediate
I practice law in two states – Missouri and Kansas. To give an example of the difference: In Missouri, we have detailed regulations
that tell what's permitted and what's not permitted. In Kansas, we have a statute in the veterinary-practice act that says
the board has authority to promulgate regulatory actions on the supervision of veterinary technicians. But there are no regulations.
So in Kansas no one knows what is permissible and not permissible conduct until disciplinary action is brought.
A classic example of a disciplinary case where a veterinarian was sanctioned is where he or she permitted a veterinary technician
to perform surgery. That, at the minimum, from what I've seen in disciplinary cases, results in at least suspension, sometimes
revocation of licensure. Other cases involve X-rays, and administration and dispensing of medications. I'd like to open up
discussion of dispensing or administration of medications and what type of supervision a veterinarian should exercise, or
whether he or she should have to supervise that.
Ms. Raffel: What is really important to remember when we talk about supervision is that veterinarians shouldn't be delegating anything
they don't feel comfortable having their technician do. On the reverse side, technicians need to be comfortable saying, "I
would love to learn how to do that, but I'm just not comfortable. However, I saw a notice for a meeting. Will you send me?"
I do think that, with the ever-expanding list that we get from the AVMA regarding the skills that our graduates need, there
is a gradual decrease in level of supervision from graduation as you progress through the profession. But new graduates may
need a little more handholding. That's true in any profession. There's always that learning curve. We have to gain stability
and confidence in our profession and in our career. That doesn't mean it stays that way after you're an 18-year veteran. There
has to be some kind of compromise growing with this level of supervision.
Dr. Sherbyn Ostrich, DVM, past president of AVMA
There are things we all agree as technicians we shouldn't do. That's why we're technicians. If we wanted to do surgery, we'd
be veterinarians. But there's no reason I should be restricted from doing tasks allowed by AVMA.
Another issue that is important to remember is that, in interviewing, we talk about retaining people who are unfit technicians.