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Editor's Note, Practice Management

The Age of the Veterinary Nurse Has Arrived! Part I: What’s in a Name?

Simon R. PlattBVM&S, MRCVS, DACVIM (Neurology), DECVN

University of Georgia
College of Veterinary Medicine
[email protected]

Simon R. Platt, BVM&S, MRCVS, DACVIM (Neurology), DECVN, is a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. His research interests include ischemic disease of the central nervous system, canine brain tumors, and epilepsy.

Dr. Platt is a member of the International Veterinary Epilepsy Task Force and a founding member of the Southeastern Veterinary Neurology Group. He has authored or coauthored more than 190 journal articles and 50 book chapters and is the co-editor of three textbooks: BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Neurology, Manual of Small Animal Neurological Emergencies, and Canine and Feline Epilepsy: Diagnosis and Management. Dr. Platt received his veterinary degree from University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Ontario Veterinary College (University of Guelph) and residency in neurology and neurosurgery at University of Florida.

The Age of the Veterinary Nurse Has Arrived! Part I: What’s in a Name?

If anything prevents continued advancement of this professional body, it may be the confusion over why there are so many different titles. If this confuses us, then how does it affect our patients’ owners’ acceptance and recognition, an integral component in improving our retention of veterinary technicians?

I will focus on where we are, and the next editorial will focus on where the veterinary nursing profession may be headed in the next decade.

“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”1
— Florence Nightingale

Currently, veterinary technicians, one of the most well-known designations, have credentials, which vary between states. A credentialed veterinary technician may be registered (RVT), licensed (LVT), certified (CVT) or a licensed veterinary medical technician (LVMT)! An interesting map of the state-by-state credentialing terminology is available on the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) website.2 Veterinary technicians are required to attend and graduate from an AVMA-approved (American Veterinary Medical Association) program and pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination. State dependent, there may also be additional examinations and CE requirements, bi-annual or annual. At the time of this writing, a veterinary assistant is defined as an individual who provides care under the supervision of a veterinarian or credentialed veterinary technician, and designated as either approved (AVA) or certified (CVA), based on whether NAVTA or the state veterinary medical association oversees their training. Further to this, a veterinary technician specialist (VTS) designation can be achieved by a credentialed veterinary technician with extra training in one of NAVTA-recognized 15 academies, which include ophthalmology, surgery and internal medicine. To many people, these credentials can be confusing and, understandably, lead to a lack of recognition of the individuals working alongside us and the amount of work they invested to get to that point. This is obviously aside from the possibility that this confusion may also lead to a lack of financial reward, which should, ideally, mirror the person’s qualification and experience.

In 2017, NAVTA announced its plans to move forward with the veterinary nurse credential change with the formation of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative (VNI) Coalition. Pursuing legislative changes in all 50 states to establish the credential of registered veterinary nurse, NAVTA’s board approved the action replace the titles of RVT, LVT, CVT and LVMT, and unite the profession under a single title, set of credentialing requirements, and scope of practice. Although a challenging and time-consuming process, it’s one that will help to unify the profession and create a platform for the continued advancement and integration of veterinary nursing into our practices, whatever geographic and socio-economic society they serve.

As veterinarians, we should ensure this wait for a new name does not deter us with respect to constantly improving the integration of nurses into the ever-changing face of our practices, achieving more efficiency, better patient care, improved client confidence, and most importantly, long-term retention of these invaluable professionals.


1https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/63084-i-am-of-certain-convinced-that-the-greatest-heroes-are (accessed November 20, 2017). For detail by state, visit: http://www.navta.net/resource/resmgr/vn_initiative/VeterinaryNursingMap.html