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In this section:
According to the Veterinary State Practice Act (which can be found at www.dora.state.co.us/veterinarians), section 12-64-103 (20) a "veterinary technician" means a person who: a) has received a degree in animal technology or a comparable degree from a school, college, or university recognized by the board; or b) has received a diploma as an animal technician on or before July 1, 1975.
CACVT has a Task Force that is reviewing the State Practice Act. Until legislative changes are made, this is the legal definition.
In the state of Colorado, technicians are certified, and NOT licensed. That means that unless you have a DVM degree, you must work under the direct supervision of a Colorado licensed veterinarian, regardless of your educational background. Veterinarians are governed by the Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine which falls under the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). However, everyone else falls under the license of the veterinarian that is in charge. Thus every veterinarian has the option of choosing who is employed under his/her license.
The Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians (CACVT) was established approximately 10 years ago in order to be the association of technicians in the state of Colorado. Before that, all regulation of technicians was handled by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). The CACVT currently has Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and a Code of Ethics that it follows. The CACVT is the governing board for the certified veterinary technicians in this state. We provide the guidelines for the passing of the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) and maintain the certification of the individual through continuing education requirements. However, we are an association and not a state-run government agency.
While there are no formal definitions of the jobs under the veterinarian in the practice act, CACVT has general guidelines for the different positions. These definitions are in alignment with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).
However, it is up to each veterinarian / practice to specifically define the roles and the titles of the people that he/she supervises. CACVT can only provide guidelines, we do not have any capacity to enforce or dictate what each clinic/practice does.
Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT): There are two ways to become a CVT in Colorado. One is to graduate from an AVMA-accredited program in veterinary technology and pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The other way is to transfer into Colorado from another state.
Once someone has become certified in CO, they maintain their certification by obtaining 20 Continuing Education (CE) credits every two years (overseen by CACVT). The CACVT CE committee sets the regulations for what CE will be accepted as well as keeps a record of CE that each member submits. Guidelines as to the types of CE that are allowed can be found on the Web site.
In general, it is viewed that CVTs are allowed to do all tasks under the veterinarian with the exception of diagnosing, performing surgery, prescribing medications, or initiating treatments. Usually it is the CVT who maintains anesthesia, places catheters, calculates and draws up / administers drugs (following the veterinarian's orders), oversees other staff members, and performs more difficult tasks. Again, this is all up to the veterinarian in charge and the staff members available to perform all the necessary tasks.
Veterinary Technician: Someone who has either graduated from a veterinary program but did not pass the VTNE, or was a CVT who has let his/her membership lapse. Some people who have been in the field for a very long time (10 plus years) also tend to fall into this category by default, although CACVT does not officially recognize this person as a veterinary technician. Usually, they can perform all the tasks as a CVT, but it is again up to the veterinarian.
Veterinary Assistant/Technician Assistant: Someone who has gone to a program (such as PIMA) and received a certificate of completion, or who is on-the-job trained. In general, assistants help the technicians with their tasks. They tend not to perform the more difficult tasks unless directly supervised by a technician or veterinarian. Again, it depends on the individual's skill level and the discretion of the veterinarian.
Receptionists: There are programs to train and certify people in this area. Receptionists are usually in charge of the front office, paperwork, checking in and out clients, and scheduling appointments. A well-trained receptionist is invaluable to the clinic and is definitely a part of the overall team effort.
Kennel Assistants/Attendants: These are usually, but not always, people who are thinking about a career in veterinary medicine and want some hands-on experience. They perform basic cleaning and care of the animals and facility and need minimal training. However, because observation of the animals is always important, this position still has value in the overall function of the clinic.
Office Manager or Practice Manager: While there may be some distinction between the two, these positions basically oversee the running of the facility and do everything from ordering supplies to scheduling. Often times CVTs become managers but not necessarily. Generally speaking, managers do very little when it comes to the medicine aspect, but again, it depends on the make-up of the staff and each person's skill level.
Click here for a PDF of the original article reflecting the position that CACVT has taken on this topic. The article was run in the December 2001 Techniques, CACVT's monthly newsletter.
To further confuse the terminology, the words licensed, certified and registered are often used. Which term used is mandated by the technician's state of practice. Here are some definitions to help us understand why all three terms are in use.
Certification - is the recognition by the private sector of voluntarily achieved standards. Certification is most usually bestowed by a private sector, nonprofit, professional association, or independent board on those members who achieve specified standards. Certification is therefore distinguished from licensure because it is generally nongovernmental and voluntary. Confusion can result when the title certified is used for a licensed profession, such as Certified Public Accountant.
Registration - refers to the keeping of lists of practitioners by a governmental agency. It can be equivalent to licensure but may also be distinguished from licensure in that criteria for registration may not exist, and registration may not be required for practice.
Licensure/Licensing - is understood as the permission to do something as given by an authority, with the implication that one would not be permitted to do this thing without permission. To be licensed is more than a statement of qualification, as certification is. It is a statement of qualification, and it is the right to do a thing otherwise not permitted by a given authority.
Both certification and licensure, however, carry the connotation of trust, belief, and confidence, for without these attributes, the certification or the license would have little worth.
Again, multiple titles can be very confusing for the public. In order to simplify this, NAVTA recommends the use of the term "credentialed." We use the word credential not only to denote licensure and certification, but also to connote an affective element inherent in these terms. We see that the word credential, which includes by definition the act of certification, also conveys the more affective meaning of belief, putting one's trust in, having faith in that is intended by the act of certification.
Note from CACVT:
Your credentialing status (certified vs. registered vs. licensed) is based upon the specific state. If you are moving, please contact the state you are moving to in order to obtain the credentialing status and requirements to be credentialed in that specific state. You can be credentialed in multiple states as long as you follow each state's specific requirements.
Taking the VTNE does not mean you are automatically credentialed in the state. You must check with that state to find out how to become credentialed after you pass the VTNE. The grade needed to pass the VTNE may also be different among states, although it tends to be fairly uniformed. Again, check with the state you wish to be credentialed in for details.
If you have any questions, or need clarification, please contact the CACVT office.