“‘We’re full of veterinary technicians’ is a phrase that no veterinary practice has said in years,” said Kenichiro Yagi, a registered veterinary technician and president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. Yagi discussed at the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020 in the session “Technician problems that must be addressed in practice in order to keep Technicians Part I and Part II”, how veterinary technicians can be assessed in practice between a recognized veterinary technician and a veterinary assistant.
The first step Yagi suggests is to do a simple assessment to assess how a practice uses veterinary technicians, separating the tasks performed by veterinarians from those performed by technicians. NAVTA must fill out a form.
“When this rating was tested, many practices fell into under-utilization of their technicians,” said Yagi.
Low workloads can lead to problems for technicians in a practice, including increased turnover, decreased work ethic, stagnant growth, poor job satisfaction, and the potential for antagonistic team dynamics.
Asking the right questions
NAVTA founded the Veterinary Nurse Initiative in 2016 to unite name change efforts within the profession while focusing on issues of authentication, scope of work, title protection and appropriate use.
In 2019, AVMA established the Task Force on the Use of Veterinary Technicians, which published a report recommending solutions in areas such as education, licensing and wellness. JAVMA News previously reported on the recommendations.
During the session, Yagi suggested the following questions that the practices should ask:
- What role do recognized veterinary technicians play compared to other team members?
- Is there a different title for ID technicians than other team members?
- Are veterinary technicians paid fairly and how do you define fair?
- Are certified vet technicians paid differently than other team members, and how do you judge the difference?
Yagi said the wages of a veterinary technician should be different from those in a position that does not require schooling, because what else would school be used for?
“The permission people are given must have some value,” he said. “To keep vet technicians better, we need to pay generous wages, develop metrics to justify pay, and set additional allowances for badges. People look to see if they are valued, if they are able to do their job, and if they have a sense of practice. “
The equestrian technician
Small animal practices often employ recognized veterinary technicians, but equine and large animal veterinarians mainly employ veterinary assistants, said Deborah B. Reeder, a licensed veterinary technician who specializes in equine medicine. At the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020, Reeder spoke about the difference between certified veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants and the benefit of hiring a certified veterinary technician during the “Professional and Ethical Use of Equine Veterinary Technician and Assistant” session on August 21.
“Not taking anything away from the assistant because they were extremely valuable in equine and large animal practices. However, there are statistics that show that hiring a recognized veterinary technician can make a difference,” Reeder said.
The reason for the lack of veterinary technicians in equine and large animal practices may be that veterinary technology programs contain more information related to small animal medicine. According to Shipowner, many equine and large animal practices view handling as the most important skill they look for when hiring paraprofessional veterinarians. However, there are significant benefits to hiring a certified veterinary technician.
“Ultimately, hiring trained technicians makes financial sense,” said Reeder.
According to Shipowner, skilled technicians also reduce the risk of malpractice lawsuits, improve practice efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, and improve employee morale.