If you find yourself asking, why should I take time to appreciate veterinary technicians, or what is it they do that needs so much appreciation? Well this may come as a surprise to learn, but veterinary technicians are the unsung heroes of the veterinary field. National Veterinary Technician Week is not just celebrated to recognize veterinary technician’s hard work, it is also the best week to educate the public about this mysterious veterinary staff member. National Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week provides the perfect opportunity to answer questions about what it means for a veterinary technician to be credentialed, the education veterinary technicians go through to receive their credentialing, and the reality of what a veterinary technician does on a daily basis.
The veterinary technician is an integral member of the veterinary healthcare team. Veterinary technicians have been educated in the care and handling of animals, the basic principles of normal and abnormal life processes, and in many laboratory and clinical procedures. Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. While a veterinary technician can assist in performing a wide variety of tasks, they cannot diagnose, prescribe, perform surgery, or engage in any activity prohibited by a state’s veterinary practice act.
When a veterinary technician is credentialed it means they have gone through at least two years of intensive schooling and then taken the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). There are several schools around the country that an aspiring veterinary technician can attend but to qualify to sit for the VTNE the school must be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
This is where it starts to get confusing, there is only one national exam but every state has their own set of standards to define what it means to be a veterinary technician in that state. There are three recognized tiles for veterinary technicians, Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT), and Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT).
So what do the terms actually mean?
Defined by the National Association for Veterinary Technicians in America
Certification– is the recognition by the private sector of voluntarily achieved standards. Certification is usually bestowed by a private sector, nonprofit, professional association or independent board upon those members who achieve specified standards. Certification is therefore distinguished from licensure because it is generally non-governmental and voluntary. Confusion can result when the title "certified"is used for a licensed profession, such as Certified Public Accountant. Many CVTs in the U.S. are recognized by government agencies, such as boards of veterinary medical examiners, which also adds to the confusion. States that currently certify veterinary technicians include Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Registration– refers to the keeping of lists of practitioners by a governmental agency. It can be equivalent to licensure but may also be distinguished from licensure in that criteria for registration may not exist, and registration may not be required for practice. States that currently register veterinary technicians include California, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
Licensure/Licensing– is understood as the permission to do something as given by an authority, with the implication that one would not be permitted to do this thing without permission. To be licensed is more than a statement of qualification, as certification is. It is a statement of qualification, and it is the right to do a thing otherwise not permitted by a given authority. Both certification and licensure, however, carry the connotation of trust, belief and confidence; for without these attributes, the certification or the license would have little worth. States that license veterinary technicians include Alaska, Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
If you find yourself asking the question, why isn't there just a nationally recognized title? Well, many veterinary technicians ask themselves the same question.
Recently there has been a massive push within the veterinary industry to use a nationally accepted title for credentialed veterinary technicians instead of the current complicated system. One of the biggest motivators behind this movement is the need for credentialed veterinary technicians to be recognized for their knowledge, skills, and the value they add to a veterinary practice. But the most important step in this push for change is legally defining who can use the title of veterinary technician as those who have taken the steps to become credentialed. Seems fair right, you wouldn't call yourself a nurse unless you had gone to school to become a one.
Well credentialed veterinary technicians are leaving the field in droves and far fewer technicians are becoming credentialed every year. You may now be wondering, are people really leaving just because of a silly title? The answer is yes, but not in the way you make think. The title gives validity to those who have worked hard for the credentialing and have a comprehensive medical knowledge base. Technicians all around the country are undervalued and poorly paid because there is no incentive for a clinic owner to pay for that credentialed veterinary technician when they could hire someone off the street and award them the title of veterinary technician. And because there are very few laws prohibiting veterinary assistants from doing the job of a credentialed veterinary technician, credentialed technicians are paid about the same as an assistant but with about 30K in debt.
Now that you have a better understanding of what it means to be a veterinary technician take this week to show them your appreciation for all that they do. Let them know how much you appreciate their compassion during the journey of life's ups and downs. Brighten their day with appreciation for cleaning all the smelly, sticky, and icky messes without hesitation.
But more importantly show them you care by supporting the National Credential Initiative.
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