SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — Should unregistered veterinary technicians get a one-year window to take a certification examination based on a lot of experience and just 24 hours of education?
The California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) was considering that question at press time, with California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) officials voicing strong opposition, calling the proposal an insult to registered veterinary technicians (RVTs) who went through years of schooling.
"Passing this proposal with only 24 hours of education may meet the legal requirement of an educational component ... however, it does not meet the intent of the law," says CVMA President William Grant II in a letter to the CVMB."RVTs have worked long hours and endured financial hardship to complete the required education to quality for the exam. Passing this proposal ... is an affront to their commitment and dedication, and lowers the standards of the entire RVT profession."
But there is more to the issue, explains CVMB Executive Officer Sue Geranen, who says the proposal was created to ease a worsening shortage and to add safeguards for the public.
Discussion began after a CVMA-sponsored bill was passed to open up the administration of controlled substances to lay persons. One provision imeans that until 2012, unless it's renewed, anyone under indirect supervision by a DVM could disperse controlled substances.
"The board wrestled with what would be a way we could provide more licensed personnel for consumer protection to administer these controlled substances," Geranen says, acknowledging there are only about 4,000 RVTs in California compared to 8,000 veterinarians.
CVMB decided the best way to quickly increase the number of certified individuals eligible for the exam would be to open a one-year window for veterinary technicians with 7,360 hours of clinical experience, 24 hours of formal clinical education and a veterinarian's certification, Geranen says.
"If a veterinarian certifies a person and they apply, they would have to undergo a full background check. And they (would) still have to pass the test, so the board felt that was enough," she adds.
"This was not done in a vacuum. The board reluctantly went forward, believing there is a consumer-protection issue here with having lay personnel having direct access [to controlled substances]."
Technicians wishing to take the exam would be allowed do so between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009, and the rule could not be renewed, Geranen adds.
"Registered veterinary technicians don't think it's fair to go through the education they had and have someone who only had 24 hours of education [take the exam]. It's not right," Grant says. The board was set to cast a final vote Oct. 22. Results came after press time, but can be found on http://dvm360.com/ by searching for the term "CVMB."