Lowering The Standards For The RVT Profession Is Not The Answer

 November/December/ 2007California Veterinarian

The California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) has accepted a proposal from the Registered Veterinary Technician Committee (RVTC) which would allow unregistered assistants (UAs) to take the California state veterinary technician exam by foregoing any of the six established routes to eligibility and without any type of educational requirement. At the VMB meeting of October 17, 2007, the VMB voted to have a formal public hearing on the issue as part of the series of steps required to adopt regulations.

The CVMA Board of Governors took an “Oppose” position to this proposal at its Board meeting in September. The CVMA believes the VMB should uphold a high standard for RVT exam eligibility. While there is a shortage of RVTs, the CVMA does not believe that warrants lowering RVT standards. The CVMA believes the professional responsibilities of RVTs require a combination of education, knowledge, and skills.

Several audience members at the July RVTC and October VMB meetings expressed the opinion that if the standards for exam eligibility for RVTs are lowered it will negatively affect the long term quality of the RVT profession. It may also dissuade unregistered assistants from pursuing RVT training which includes an educational component since they will no longer need that education to perform RVT tasks.

“By allowing unregistered assistants to take the test without an educational requirement you demean those who sacrificed to go to school,” said Alex Henderson, RVT, who served on the VMB’s RVTC from 1998-2006. “If the Veterinary Medical Board votes to reinstate grandfathering, this will set the RVT profession back 30 years.”

Grandfathering was allowed many years ago, for a limited time when the RVT classification was new, to acknowledge the prior experience and training of those already working as technicians. Now, however, the RVT profession is well-established and the veterinary profession has a strong interest in maintaining high standards for RVTs.

Henderson expressed his belief that it is in the public’s interest for the VMB to guarantee that those practicing as RVTs are highly qualified to do so. “The job of the Veterinary Medical Board is to protect the consumer, not worry about increasing numbers in the profession,” he said.

Indeed, according to its own mission statement, the VMB exists “to protect consumers and animals through development and maintenance of professional standards.” Clients want the best possible treatments for their animals. This includes assuring that licensed individuals have an educational component.

Proposed text to the VMB:

Section 2068.7. Limited Term RVT Examination Eligibility Window
In lieu of a two-year curriculum in animal health technology, completion of practical experience in compliance with the following criteria is deemed to be “the equivalent thereof as determined by the board” pursuant to Section 4841.5 of the code. This provision is in effect for a period of one year from the effective date of the regulations.

(a) The applicant has at least 7,360 hours of directed clinical practice, completed in no less than five years. The directed clinical practice shall have been under the direct supervision of a California-licensed veterinarian who shall attest to the completion of that experience and the competency of the applicant at the time of application to the Board for the registered veterinary technician examination.
(b) The directed clinical practice required in subsection a shall have provided the applicant with knowledge, skills and abilities in the areas of communication with clients, patient examinations, emergency procedures, laboratory procedures, diagnostic imaging, surgical assisting, anesthesia, animal nursing, nutrition, dentistry, animal behavior and pharmacology. The supervising veterinarian(s) shall complete a checklist, approved by the Board, attesting to proficiency in specific skill areas with the preceding categories.
(c) This provision is in effect for a period of one year (12 months) from the implementation date.

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