The Veterinary Innovation Council believes in utilizing the full veterinary team to the highest degree, so teams can not only survive, but thrive. Below, we have outlined the veterinary team initiative and invite you to view our current focuses and strategy.
Building Better Teams
Pet healthcare in the United States faces challenges on all fronts due to chronic shortages throughout the system. The below challenges exist in veterinary medicine and are the basis to the development of VIC’s seven strategic steps toward building better teams.
- There are too few veterinarians to meet growing demand by millennials for pet care, with the shortage increasing each year.
- There are too few credentialed veterinary technicians/nurses, a general dissatisfaction with utilization of their trained skills and competencies and low pay.
- There is a lack of training or awareness for veterinarians on how best to work with veterinary technicians/nurses and why it is vital to successful practices.
- We have a confusing mixture of titles and responsibilities for veterinary technicians/nurses from state to state, with pet owners not understanding their expertise, training and certification.
- There’s a need to apply lessons from human healthcare about the essential role of extenders or professionals other than veterinary medical doctors. A thoughtful, national strategy must be developed to address these issues.
- With the exception of four universities, veterinary schools are not involved with academic programs for veterinary technicians/nurses.
- The new culture of pets in America and the rise of millennial pet owners has increased overall demand for pet healthcare professionals.
Five Key Focuses of Building Better Teams
- Build understanding and respect across the veterinary profession for the vital, underutilized talents of credentialed veterinary technicians/nurses, including specialists.
- Support the national initiative (VNI) to standardize the credentialed veterinary technician profession in Veterinary Practice Acts under the title of “Registered Veterinary Nurse”.
- Focus on the quality, requirements and outcomes for the two current professional degrees of a two-year A.S. degree in veterinary technology/nursing and a four-year B.S. degree in veterinary technology/nursing, and differentiate meaningfully between each degree.
- Work with stakeholders to create an accreditation process for the four-year B.S. degree plus a national certification examination through the AAVSB (modeled after its VTNE examination for A.S. degree holders).
Develop an Action Plan
The status quo with the veterinary technician/nurse profession is not sustainable with more than 50% of credentialed professionals changing employment within the first five years. An action plan with timetables must be designed, communicated and implemented, and that is why VIC is taking on this challenge to work with industry and the profession.
The action plan should clearly spell out roles for, and inter-relationships between veterinarians and other professionals including credentialed veterinary technicians/nurses, veterinary technician specialists, veterinary assistants and potential extenders.
Gain Support from Veterinarians for Better/Nurse Technician Utilization
Research and data reveal that most credentialed veterinary technicians are only allowed to utilize 35% of their trained, and national board-certified, level of skills in veterinary practices. This is a root cause of veterinary technician/nurse dissatisfaction and turnover, reduced veterinary practice performance and revenues, and less-than optimal delivery of quality medical care to America’s pets.
Veterinarians must step forward to address this problem and embrace veterinary technicians/nurses working to the full extent of their training and certification, including greater specialization.
Garner Industry-Wide Support for the Veterinary Nurse Initiative
The profession and industry must support the Veterinary Nurse Initiative so that all 50 states have a common title and credential, Registered Veterinary Nurse, and the public understands that an accredited AVMA-degree and national certification examination stand behind these professionals.
Only a handful of companies or organizations are supporting the Veterinary Nurse Initiative in a challenging legislative effort to amend Veterinary Practice Acts to recognize the common title of Registered Veterinary Nurse.
Update 2-Year Program Naming to Associate of Science in Veterinary Nursing
There are approximately 200+ AVMA-accredited two-year Associate of Science (AS) Degree programs in Veterinary Technology, enabling graduates to take the VTNE board examination administered by the AAVSB, leading to Registered, Certified or Licensed status. Each of these programs should take steps to change their degrees to Associate of Science (AS) Degree in Veterinary Nursing, and take the opportunity to modernize or upgrade programs as needed. Credentialed veterinary technicians/nurses with 2-year degrees should be exposed to additional career opportunities in public health, pharmaceuticals, FEMA, nutrition and research. The entire veterinary profession and industry must do what is necessary to effect and support this change.
Update 4-Year Program Naming to Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing, and Standardize the Program
Only 21 colleges and universities offer an AVMA-accredited four-year Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Veterinary Technology. These programs should follow the lead of Purdue University and change the degree to Bachelor of Science (BS) in Veterinary Nursing. At the same time, these programs must differentiate this degree in a meaningful manner from the AS degree so that graduates are empowered to perform duties and provide value reflecting two additional years of study, and be certified by a unique national board examination administered by AAVSB for four-year degree holders.
The entire veterinary profession and industry must support efforts by accreditors to recognize and implement these changes, particularly emphasizing management, business, leadership, communication, critical thinking, and enhanced clinical skills. Veterinary colleges should develop relationships with and engage these four-year programs. Experienced veterinary technicians/nurses lacking the AS degree must be presented with a pathway to participate in these higher-level career opportunities.
There are 16 Veterinary Technician Specialty academies recognized by NAVTA, certifying credentialed veterinary technicians and nurses as experts in providing nursing care in their area of discipline.
Build a Task Force for Greater Awareness of a New Veterinary Professional
The veterinary profession and industry should collaborate, organize meetings and convene a task force to build awareness of the need for a new professional, and work with AAVSB to define the scope of practice eligible for this new profession. The title of this new professional must meet the needs of animal healthcare, be clearly understood, and be able to gain the support of veterinarians and regulatory bodies. This is no small challenge.
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