Examining the role of veterinary technicians

Examining the role of veterinary technicians

Jul 01, 2007
By dvm360.com staff

Editor's Note: As the delivery of veterinary care becomes more sophisticated, the need to better utilize the skills of registered veterinary technicians increases, some veterinarians say.

Enhancing the technicians' role might relieve time pressure for doctors and keep them engaged in the field, but there are limits. At this year's DVM Newsmakers' Summit at CVC East in Baltimore, DVM Newsmagazine assembled a panel of leaders from state boards of veterinary medicine and technician associations to examine key issues on this subject. Results of that discussion will be presented in three parts, starting this month and continuing with DVM Newsmagazine's August and September issues. Next month the panelists address the regulatory/legal realities.


Moderator: Greg Dennis, JD, of Kent T. Perry & Co. in Overland Park, Kan., is a charter member and former president of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association and served on AVMA's Model Veterinary Practice Act Task Force and the Legal Status of Animals Task Force. He co-edits the veterinary reports of the Animal Legal Report Services.

Sue Geranen is executive officer of the California Veterinary Medical Board, a consumer watchdog agency that regulates the development and maintenance of professional standards, oversees licensing of veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians and helps enforce the California Veterinary Medicine Practice Act.

Dr. Richard Johnson owns the Animal Medical Center (AMC) of East County, a 16-doctor practice in El Cajon, Calif. A 1977 graduate of UC-Davis, he chairs the RVTC commission of the California Veterinary Medical Board. He previously was a surgical resident at the AMC and was an associate professor at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Sherbyn Ostrich is past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association. A private practitioner for 30 years, he was the first recipient of the University of Pennsylvania's Bellwether Award for leadership. He is a charter member of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues.

Teri Raffel, CVT, is president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. She teaches veterinary technology at the Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis.

Deb Coleman is an RVT. She serves on the board of regents for the Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists and is employed at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Mr. Dennis: Looking at the duties of veterinary technicians today, what's driving the move behind expanding or changing their role? Is it society's expectations? Are veterinarians and technicians adapting to changes in the profession? What about the increased use of sophisticated medical equipment? Should that be used by technicians or by the veterinarian?

On the regulatory side, how is the practice of veterinary medicine defined? Who is or is not a veterinary technician? The title often is used generically, but it has significant legal implications. Who is responsible for the care provided by a technician? What happens in emergency situations?