Veterinary technician or veterinary nurse?

Veterinary technician or veterinary nurse?

NAVTA calls for term change to veterinary nurse in a special announcement to kick off National Veterinary Technician Week.
Oct 12, 2015

"NAVTA has initiated conversations with global, national, and state organizations regarding implementing the term Veterinary Nurse for the veterinary technician profession, as well as establishing a national standard for credentialing and using Registered Veterinary Nurse, or RVN, as a unified title," NAVTA announced on its website. Watch the video announcement here: 

What do you think about the name change? Tell us in the comments below. 

Veterinary Nurse???

I know this thread is old, but in reading the responses, it pains me to see the ignorance displayed by individuals of such high training and education. I am, and was a Licensed Veterinary Technician for 16 years, educated in an Associate program. I worked mostly critical care, while also working as a veterinary technician in the US Army. When I felt I had accomplished all my career goals as a vet tech, I came to a career and life crossroads: do I go to school to become a veterinarian or do I continue to give direct care to my patients? I chose the latter, and went back to school to become a registered nurse.

As a veterinary technician, I held many of the same beliefs espoused here: nurses only deal with one species, we know at least 5 coming out of school, we do out own lab work and perform the diagnostic tests ourselves; in the human field, this is parsed out to specific individuals on a different career path. I get it, trust me! Now, as a Registered Nurse for the last 7 years, and soon to be Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in 54 days, I see that it's not one is better than the other, they are entirely different. A vet tech had a tremendous breadth of knowledge, but the depth by which they delve into the physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology and assessment holds nothing compared to the bedside RN, not to mention the Nurse Practitioner. Its only logical that, as humans, we want to know more about the human comes down to self preservation, but through that we have learned so much. I challenge any vet tech to hold the hand of a child dying of leukemia and watch what the nurses do, and not feel a sense of awe. Nurse do not simply "empty bed pans" as one comment stated; they manage care. Whereas the DVM is usually very present in the care of a pet, even at the academic level (I worked at PennVet for 8 years), the doctor or doctors who are assigned to a patient or consulted are fleeting faces throughout the day for a patient in the hospital; the only constant is that RN.

We make the same connections with our respective patient populations; we feel joy and pride when placing an IV on that "hard-stick" patient; we empathize with our patient as they are in pain or are scared, and do not fully comprehend the gravity of the disease wracking their body; we cry; we love; we give all that we are for the benefit of other, that is what unifies those is the "caring" profession.

Now that I am off my soap box (because I have SOAP notes to write on my patients), I want to say that as a Nurse, and Ive said this to patients in the past, I did a lot of the same things as a vet tech...I simply switched species! I wholeheartedly support the term Veterinary Nurse, and encourage the evolution of the profession and standardization of the credentialing process (those of who with children: if they were in the hospital, would you want someone with the most education possible caring for them, administering their meds, assessing them for progress or complication, or would you want someone who use to clean the rooms but was given the opportunity to "become a nurse", and although has no formal training, watched what the other nurses did and has been doing this for 20 years? An argument I heard many times by unlicensed "vet techs")

I "am not a nurse".

After having been told I was "not a nurse" by a nurse, I couldn't agree more. I am not a nurse!! My job is not that easy. I have to be nurse, x-ray tech, lab tech, pharmacist, anesthetics, dental hygienist, surgical assistant, groomer, phlebotomist, for all ages from geriatric to new born. I am not a nurse. I am very much more ( not that it is bad just different). Technician also does not accurately describe the job. But a nationwide common name would help.

Nurse or Tech

Please do not assume that simply because there are professionals in human medicine that do separate jobs, of which the veterinary technician do most, that it somehow makes the job of a registered nurse "easy". To assume the ease or difficulty of someones profession without having ever walked that path is ignorance. As an LVT, and RN, BSN, and a soon to be nurse practitioner, i can say that neither is easier or harder than the other, they are simply different in certain ways.

Veterinary technician/nurse

As someone who has benefited from the expertise of many veterinary technicians in a career that included clinical small animal practice, veterinary teaching hospital administration and industry (hired first vet tech in 1970), I am definitely a great fan and supporter. I have spent over 40 years in organized veterinary medicine and over the last 20 years have spoken about consolidating the titles and my belief has always been that "veterinary nurse" would be much more understood and respected by the general public and in particular clients. Having made those statements to such audiences, I can assure you that the response was very divided as you will see in future comments.
Originally, at least in my geography, the name was used because the education was provided in technical schools. The original programs were designed with large animal practice as their primary target for employment, but that practice sector did not welcome them to any significant extent and most technicians from the early 70's onward found employment in the companion animal sector. At the same time the veterinary profession as a whole did not offer strong support for the status of these individuals. I remember a quote from an AVMA article that said "you could tell the maturity of a profession by how well it works with it's auxiliary personnel".
Given the divisiveness of this issue I would hope that NAVTA and all similar technician groups would continue to strive for one title and I believe the term veterinary nurse is the best option at the moment. While it can be said that technicians can and do perform more things than an individual nurse, human nurses can and do perform a myriad of other functions right up to and including nurse practitioners. The general public is well aware that a nurse may provide more services than "nursing". If you aren't aware, in job respect surveys the human nursing profession is usually in the top three, ahead of many of the professions you would expect to be there. Veterinary technicians (I believe partly because of the misunderstood title) are never even mentioned in such surveys.
Whatever the result I believe the passion, dedication and performance of these highly educated individuals will continue to rise in importance in the animal/human work place.

Veterinary Nurses

I don't like the idea and the reason is again, public perception. My own FAMILY didn't understand everything I did as a vet tech unless they saw me in action. Most of the public still have no inkling of how much we do in one day, how hard or how dangerous our job is.
We don't change bed pans and take temperatures with oral thermometers but if you change our HARD EARNED titles to Vet Nurse you can bet that's what the public will think right away. I'm sorry but I worked too hard, studied too hard, and earned my scars and stripes to be considered a nurse, We are more like veterinary soldiers!!
I'm sure I'll be the dissenting voice in this but oh well. I wasn't even for the designation of VA. What's the point of that if you are basically a kennel girl who assists the techs and now you have letters after your name? Is there some valid learning and earning of these letters? I still have people introduce me as a Veterinary Assistant and I mildly correct them that I am a Technician but again, maybe that doesn't work either.
I have been many things in my practice- Manager, receptionist, trainer of new Veterinarians, full time and only technician for twenty years, pharmacist, Xray tech, Lab worker and phlebotomist. That's only a few. Tell me how to package that up into the word Nurse? Most nurses are shocked when I told them what I do. Visibly shocked. Plus nurses were usually the worst clients we have. (don't deny it!)
So until they come up with something better, I'm sticking to my RVT, CVT and B.S. designations thank you. I have the scars after 43 yrs to prove it and that's my story!


I am all for getting all of us credentialed "techs" under one title. I think the public would better understand what we do with Veterinary Nurse instead of Technician. I just wish there were an even better descriptor since we do a lot of things that nurses don't do on the human side. :)

One point my boss has brought up with our clinic discussions on this matter is the title of our non-credentialed Veterinary Assistants. With the title Physician's Assistants out there, she feels that there can easily be some confusion with clients regarding where Veterinary Assistants fall in the level of duties performed. Her thought is that we call them Technician's Assistants, or with the possible title change, Veterinary Nursing Assistants.