RVTs Can Boost Practice Efficiency And The Bottom Line

July/August 2008 California Veterinarian

RVT News

By Al Aldrete, DVM

Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) contribute to the veterinary team and directly improve patient care in a veterinary hospital. Their contributions add to the value of care that veterinarians can provide, keep client appointments on time, and help maximize practice earnings.

The RVT Strategy

Many veterinary practice owners have long known the value of hiring RVTs. To determine the best balance for a clinic or hospital, staffing structure should be designed to ensure everyone on the team is making a positive contribution to the three “C’s” at all times: Clinical Excellence; Client Satisfaction; and Cash Flow. That is done by balancing the medical team with veterinarians, RVTs and veterinary assistants.

Maximizing Productivity

Most veterinarians have struggled with how to get more work done and see more clients during already very long and busy days. One highly successful approach has been to create a support system that assigns state-approved tasks to certified RVTs. (Veterinarians should never assign tasks approved for certified RVTs to unregistered veterinary assistants, since doing that could put the veterinarian’s license at risk.)

Procedures an RVT may perform under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian when done pursuant to the direct order, control and full professional responsibility of the licensed veterinarian are:*

  • induce anesthesia
  • apply casts and splints
  • perform dental extractions
  • suture cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues, gingival and oral mucous membranes
  • create a relief hole in the skin to facilitate placement of an intravascular catheter

RVTs may perform additional procedures, such as administering controlled substances, under indirect supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

A Growing Career

Many veterinarians are making the decision to increase the number of RVTs in their clinic or hospital. Veterinary technicians are among the five fastest-growing occupations in the U.S., according to the federal Department of Labor. Studies show that for every one technician graduating from an accredited program, there are six to eight openings.

Bottom Line

California veterinarians who use their RVTs to their full potential and the full extent of the law, as allowed by the California Veterinary Medicine Practice Act, increase practice revenue and maximize productivity. Transferring some of a veterinarian’s responsibilities to RVTs frees up more veterinarian time to perform more advanced therapies and procedures, which allows a hospital to increase income while providing a higher level of care to all patients.

An added benefit is the often increased career satisfaction experienced by both veterinarians and RVTs. Veterinarians can act as mentors in the veterinary practice, recognizing RVTs’ knowledge and skills, and providing ongoing encouragement and opportunities for growth.

* “Direct supervision” means the supervisor is physically present at the location where animal health care job tasks are to be performed and is quickly and easily available; and (2) the animal has been examined by a veterinarian at such time as good veterinary medical practice requires consistent with the particular delegated animal health care job task.

“Indirect supervision” means that the supervisor is not physically present at the location where animal health care job tasks are to be performed, but has given written or oral instructions (“direct orders”) for treatment of the animal patient and the animal has been examined by a veterinarian at such times as good veterinary medical practice requires with the particular delegated animal health care task and the animal is not anesthetized as defined in section 2032.
Al Aldrete, DVM is a founding partner of the Veterinary Allied Staff Education (VASE) alternate route program which prepares students to take the state RVT exam. For more information, visit

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