What is the National Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week?
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.
What does a veterinary technician do?
Defined by the AVMA
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.
Some of the daily tasks performed by veterinary technicians
Obtain medical histories
Collect specimens and perform laboratory procedures
Provide specialized nursing care
Prepare animals, instruments, and equipment for surgery
Administer and monitor anesthesia
Perform diagnostic and medical procedures
Assist in surgical procedures
Perform diagnostic imaging
Supervise practice personnel
Perform dental prophylaxis
So what does it mean to be a credentialed veterinary technician?
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.