San Diego — On Jan. 1, California will join 16 other states in assigning a credentialed technician a seat on the state veterinary medical board. (One of those states is Tennessee, where a licensed technician serves as the board's vice president. Click here to read about the resistance she's faced—and the progress she's made.)
Bill AB 1980, signed into law in September and going into effect New Year’s Day, changes the makeup of the California Veterinary Medical Board, adding a registered veterinary technician to the four veterinarians and three public members sitting on the board. (Upon the governor appointing the technician to the board, the state board’s Registered Veterinary Technician Committee will be eliminated.)
This collectively gives technicians a vote on regulations that affect the practice of veterinary medicine. It also means a technician will participate in disciplinary decisions the board makes against technicians. (Click here to watch Tracey Mumby, RVT, a board of director for the California Registered Veterinary Technician Association, describe the significance and process of getting a technician on the board.)
The bill also included title protection for credentialed technicians, clearly drawing a distinction between veterinary technicians and assistants. “The public is very confused about the difference between a licensed RVT and an unregistered assistant,” Mumby says. “It’s very common for veterinarians to refer to their entire staff as ‘my techs’ and for unregistered assistants to call themselves veterinary technicians. We feel it’s critical that the public be made aware that there’s a difference between those who do and do not have specific training and certification.”
As of New Year’s Day, it will be illegal for anyone in California to misrepresent themselves as a registered technician, either through words, letters, or symbols. Unregistered technicians may be referred to as assistants, but not technicians, under the law. Violations can lead to citations and fines by the board.
“We hope that RVTs will remind their employers and co-workers of the new law so that no one will have to be fined,” Mumby says. “We realize that it will take some time for people to change their habits, but this is a great step forward.” (What do you think about the title distinction—about time or overboard? Click here to share your take on technician, assistant, or nurse titles.)