September 17, 2018

Techs Launch Initiative To Be Called 'Veterinary Nurse'

Techs Launch Initiative To Be Called 'Veterinary Nurse'

By Amy Blitchok

An initiative being pushed by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) is causing controversy and forcing nurses to take a stand. The Veterinary Nurse Initiative (VNI) Coalition is working to change their professional designations and replace current credentials with the title “registered veterinary nurse.” The VNI has reached out to other organizations for support, but groups like the American Nurses Association (ANA) have declined to get behind the initiative and are now taking steps to protect the history and integrity of the title “nurse.”

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“Nurse vs Vet Tech”

While most nursing associations agree that veterinary technicians should work towards standardizing education and the licensure process, they do not support the use of the word nurse as part of the new credentialing system.  According to the ANA, nurses have been working for well over a century to build the credibility of their profession. As a result of these organized efforts, nurses have been named as the most ethical and trusted profession for the past 16 years by a Gallup poll. Allowing veterinary technicians to co-opt the term has the potential to undermine decades of work and respectability.

Veterinary techs argue that there is too much confusion over their titles, which translates into a lack of respect from patients and colleagues. Using the term “nurse” will allow them to tap into existing connotations of education and professionalism. By falling back on a familiar term, they can avoid further confusion and clearly communicate their professional status. 

Technically speaking, the definition of the word nurse doesn’t require any official level of education or training. Basically, a nurse is someone who cares for the sick, which opens the door for veterinary techs to use the term without being inaccurate. However, nurses continue to argue that the other associations that go along with title are worth preserving and limiting to those who care for humans.  

A fight over title change

Over the past few years, VNI has been working to have legislation passed that would make the name change official. So far, their efforts have been unsuccessful although there is every indication that they will continue to introduce legislation aimed at making a legal change to their professional titles. 

The ANA and other major organizations plan to continue to fight the title change while still encouraging VNI to create a new, standardized credentialing system. The Tennessee Nurses Association released this statement on the issue: “While we laud the efforts of veterinary technicians to standardize their education and licensure, we believe that title ‘nurse’ should be protected and only used for the care of humans.” It remains to be seen whether the VNI will be successful in their efforts to adopt the title nurse, but it is clear that national nursing organizations are prepared to put up a fight. 

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