Examining the role of veterinary technicians - DVM
News Center
DVM Featuring Information from:


Examining the role of veterinary technicians


Ms. Coleman: The key is developing the protocol. You have to have somebody in the practice. If you have an administrator or practice manager whose role is to handle those issues, then absolutely there's no excuse. But if you have a smaller practice with maybe three veterinarians and two technicians, then it's one more thing for the technicians to do. That doesn't mean it shouldn't get done. It means the technicians need to say, "I've written this up, because we've come across this a couple of times. What do you think?" The key is getting it written. As long as people have it presented to them, most would be willing to go along with it. But letting people know that they can write it down is a big key.

Dr. Ostrich: I'll never forget back in the late 1980s the paranoia that existed. There were a lot of veterinarians who were afraid to give technicians too much responsibility. Veterinarians felt they would lose the profession. There was at least an hour debate on the House floor of the AVMA as to whether we were going to allow the name to be officially changed to "veterinary-health technician" or whether it must stay "animal technician." People from New York at that time were adamant that the word "veterinary" should not be put in front of technician, because they were afraid it might affect their ability to do things. Common sense won out finally, and we did get the ability to use veterinary technician, which we supported, but it took a long time.

Dr. Johnson: Out of 16 doctors in a practice I have, I have three doctors who are willing to do a triage where I actually have my technicians come into the room and they'll bring the animal straight back. It just saves me a lot of time. Then they can help me work up the case. Then I talk to the client. But, like Dr. Ostrich said, most of my doctors are not willing to do that. They feel they have to go in because that's the way it's always been done.

Ms. Raffel: So much that has to happen has to come from the regulatory end. The VMAs can discuss with the exam boards and promote, endorse and cajole them as much as they can into changing the rules, but unless the exam boards do it, we're kind of stuck. As someone who's been before our exam board for more years than I'm going to admit, it takes forever to get them to understand why this is not something that makes sense. It goes along with the legal part of the discussion. Are we keeping up with the way the role is changing? A lot of the state laws and rules and administrative codes were written when our profession was started or when it was recognized for the first time in that state legally. We've done some rewriting. Quite frankly, we've got people on the exam boards who are mostly veterinarians — they don't want to work that hard.

Mr. Dennis: Following up on that point, many of the state practice acts have been extensively modified over the years, but the genesis of most states' veterinary-practice acts is the AVMA's Model Veterinary Practice Act. We've amended it over the years, modified it, taken things out, but the definition of the practice of veterinary medicine remains the same.

Ms. Geranen: There is another model that states are using now — the one that was developed by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB), which is the regulatory entity for licensing jurisdiction in the United States, Canada and the territories. We have an annual conference. NAVTA recently started meeting with us, which is great, because that increases the dialogue between the national veterinary technician association and the regulators, the administrators. It helps us, as part of the California Veterinary Medical Board, the licensing board, to hear the issues directly. As for us, we use the AAVSB model, not the AVMA's model.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
Click here