The North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) has announced the launch of their Veterinary Nurse/Technician Empowerment Initiative, a bold new program to elevate and advance veterinary nurses and credentialed technicians who are vital members of veterinary practices, but whose skills are often underutilized.
The Veterinary Nurse/Technician Empowerment Initiative encompasses a wide range of programs that offer new resources and tools for veterinary nurses/technicians, encourage the next generation of these veterinary professionals and bring together leaders from across the veterinary industry to address the challenges facing the veterinary nurse/technician profession.
A key new programme the NAVC is launching within the Veterinary Nurse/Technician Empowerment Initiative is a national consumer veterinary nurse/technician awareness and education campaign sponsored by VCA Animal Hospitals, with support from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).
The campaign will create greater consumer awareness and understanding of the important role and significant educational requirements of veterinary nurses/technicians with the goal of changing perceptions and attitudes among pet parents so they feel more confident and accepting of having a qualified, certified veterinary nurse/technician care for their loved ones.
“Veterinary nurses and technicians play a vital role in veterinary medicine and are essential members of the veterinary practice team. They are not just helpers and assistants. They are phlebotomists, anaesthetists, ultrasonographers, surgical technicians, dental hygienists and more, who are highly educated and skilled. Yet NAVC’s own research shows they use less than one-third of the competencies they are trained to perform,” said NAVC CEO Gene O’Neill.
“By elevating this critical position and helping veterinary nurses and technicians reach their full potential, we will help improve the performance of our veterinary healthcare teams and the health of animals everywhere.”
The goals of the Veterinary Nurse/Technician Empowerment Initiative are to achieve improved access to care, better patient outcomes and client satisfaction, improved overall well-being of the veterinary nurse/technician and to encourage more people to go into veterinary careers.
New resources, tools and forums
The new programmes provide a wide range of resources and support for veterinary nurses/credentialed technicians including career development and growth, scholarships for continued learning and new intensive hands-on courses specifically designed for nurses/technicians at the NAVC Institute to further advance their expertise, and a new webinar series that brings together industry leaders to address key issues facing the veterinary nurse/credentialed technician profession.
Today’s Veterinary Nurse is launching the “Clinic Champions” series to recognize the positive impact veterinary nurses/technicians make, and a mentorship program that will help the next generation of veterinary nurses and technicians succeed.
National consumer education and awareness campaign
In early 2022, the NAVC will launch a year-long national consumer awareness and education campaign with VCA and NAVTA to elevate the critical role veterinary nurses/credentialed technicians play. The campaign will focus on the extensive education that veterinary nurses and credentialed technicians pursue as well as the highly-skilled procedures they perform, including 16 specialty certifications such as emergency and critical care, anesthesia and analgesia, surgery, ophthalmology and others.
The campaign will address the issues identified in a national survey conducted by Atomik Research on behalf of the NAVC which found that many pet owners are not aware of nor understand the role and education requirements of veterinary nurses/technicians.
“As one of the largest networks of hometown animal hospitals, VCA is focused on providing world-class medicine and caring for the future of veterinary medicine. That future is only possible with the expert support that smart, purpose-driven credentialed technicians and trained assistants provide,” said Marie Kerl, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVECC, the chief medical officer for VCA Animal Hospitals.
“Credentialed veterinary technicians and assistants play a critical role in delivering care to our patients and clients at all levels of veterinary medicine. Through this program, we look forward to celebrating and recognizing the important role they play as key members of the veterinary care team.”
The survey findings reveal that:
- Many pet owners are unaware of the broad range of services veterinary nurses and credentialed technicians perform. Nearly one in two (47 percent) do not think the role of a veterinary nurse/technician involves performing medical tasks and procedures. A majority (62 percent) are unaware that veterinary nurses/technicians can monitor and manage anesthetics during surgery, dispense medication and perform diagnostic imaging
- Most pet owners do not fully understand the extensive educational requirements, credentials and professional training that are required to become a veterinary nurse/credentialed technician. Sixty-three percent do not know that credentialed veterinary nurses/technicians are the animal healthcare equivalent of registered nurses (RNs). One in five (20 percent) think a veterinary nurse/technician has less than two years of post-secondary education
- Nearly three-fourths (69 percent) percent of pet owners in the U.S. report that after learning about veterinary nurses/credentialed technicians and their required level of education and expertise, they feel more confident and comfortable with the level of care these members of the veterinary practice provide their pets
“A more informed and educated consumer – and a more informed veterinarian and practice manager – will not only benefit veterinary nurses and technicians, but will also benefit the practices where they work. The ultimate result being the delivery of better care for animals,” said NAVTA President, Ed Carlson, CVT, VTS (Nutrition). “Once this is accomplished, consumers will be as comfortable with a veterinary technician caring for their pet, as they are with an RN caring for their loved one in a hospital.”
The Veterinary Nurse/Technician Empowerment Initiative builds on NAVC’s long history of supporting veterinary nurses and credentialed technicians through its industry-leading publication Today’s Veterinary Nurse which includes peer-reviewed articles and free continuing education in every issue; dedicated online resources for veterinary nurses/technicians on VetFolio; the annual Earl Rippie Veterinary Nurse Leadership Scholarship; and hundreds of hours of CE and sessions dedicated to veterinary nurses and credentialed technicians at VMX each year.
The Veterinary Nurse/Technician Empowerment Initiative program was announced at a press conference at the 39th annual Veterinary Meeting & Expo, VMX 2022, the veterinary industry’s largest and most comprehensive global veterinary conference, presented by the NAVC each year at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.