09 Jun

The Future of Veterinary Medicine is Now!

The future of veterinary medicine is now!

By Liz Salan, with help from CACVT and Erin Henninger, CACVT Executive Director

In November 2020, the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians submitted a Sunrise Review Application for the profession of veterinary technology to determine whether veterinary technicians should be regulated. The Department of Regulatory Agencies states that “a sunrise review explores whether there is a need to regulate a currently unregulated profession or occupation”.

The last time a Sunrise Review Application was completed was in 1994, and the field has gone through many changes since then. Veterinary technicians are currently regulated in 41 states with varying levels of credentialing, title protection, and CE requirements. In Colorado, credentialing = certification = CVT (as opposed to licensing or registration). Colorado, as a voluntary private entity credentialing state, has one the highest number of credentialed veterinary technicians across the US – over 2600!

In October 2021, the Sunrise Review report was published with a recommendation to regulate veterinary technicians. The review process found evidence supporting creation of a competency-based regulatory program for veterinary technicians, serving two purposes:

  1. Establish a minimum level of competency
  2. Ensure an understanding of the appropriate duties that are permissible while practicing as a veterinary technician

Colorado’s 2022 legislative session opened January 12th, and both the sunset and sunrise reports were presented to the House Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water in late January. As a result of much work since 2020, CACVT and CVMA were well prepared to engage in the legislative process.

Two primary goals guide joint work on developing regulation of veterinary technicians:

  • Colorado’s veterinary workforce has too few veterinary technicians, and therefore, regulation must provide pathways for Colorado’s veterinary technicians to become registered.
  • Demand for veterinary services is increasing, so regulation must create a career path that improves retention and attracts more professionals in the future.

While specific language for the legislation is still being drafted, the goals have translated to three key regulatory priorities:

  • Title Protection – use of the title “veterinary technician” will convey to the public that veterinary technicians are educated, trained, and qualified. In clinic settings, it will encourage better utilization of the varied knowledge, skills and competencies on veterinary teams.
  • Minimum Competency – will establish baseline career entry requirements for future veterinary technicians, and a common understanding of clinical care competence that can be expected.
  • Increased Accountability – inclusion of veterinary technicians in the Veterinary Practice Act will increase their understanding of the laws and regulations that must be followed in veterinary practice, which will in turn increase accountability of veterinary teams.

Change can be confusing, so to be clear: CACVT and CVMA’s joint goal is to retain everyone now working as veterinary technicians in Colorado and to provide inclusive opportunities for regulation. This means that veterinary technicians will have choices to follow a path that best meets their goals and the needs of the industry.

In February 2022, the Veterinary Practice Act bill was accepted, along with the proposed amendments, and the bill passed the House Agriculture, Livestock, & Water Committee unanimously! In March 2022, CACVT staff attended the second hearing of the Veterinary Practice Act (HB 22-1235) before the House Agriculture, Livestock, & Water Committee. The bill passed unanimously. On April 11th, the Veterinary Practice Act passed a third hearing in the House of Representatives and moved on to the Senate. In May of 2022, the bill passed the Senate and was sent to the Governor’s desk for signature.

On June 9, 2022, the bill was signed into law by Governor Polis! 

            Here is what you need to know, courtesy of the CACVT:

Once signed by the governor, when will this go into effect?
Starting January 1, 2023, the State Board of Veterinary Medicine (SBVM) will be responsible for governing the practice of veterinary technicians. One exciting aspect is that two registered veterinary technicians will be added to the SBVM! And yes, certified veterinary technicians will become registered veterinary technicians. In fact, title protection is one of the main priorities for the new regulatory program and starting January 1, 2024, anyone wanting to use the titles Registered Veterinary Technician, Veterinary Technician, RVT, or VT will have to meet one of three qualifications to become registered with the state of Colorado.

What are those qualifications?

As the legislation is written, the eligibility requirement for registration is a credential with a board- approved credentialing entity. CVTs already credentialed with CACVT will immediately be eligible to apply for registration with the SBVM. They will have until December 31, 2023 to register to be recognized and to continue using the terms registered veterinary technician, veterinary technician, RVT, or VT (title protection enforced as of January 1, 2024). The details of the registration process will be created by DORA.

Other individuals who may immediately qualify are those who may have graduated from an AVMA- accredited program and passed the VTNE but were never certified or let their certification lapse.

What does all this mean for non-credentialed veterinary technicians? 
There will be a 1-year window for those individuals working in the role of a veterinary technician to take advantage of 2 different experience-based pathways.

  1. Experience-based pathway 1: 6500+ hours of verified work experience equivalent to the work performed by a veterinary technician, has passed the VTNE, and has received an endorsement from a qualified individual.
  2. Experience-based pathway 2: 9000+ hours of verified work experience equivalent to the work performed by a veterinary technician and has received an endorsement from a qualified individual.

Non-credentialed veterinary technicians will fall into one of 3 groups: Group 1 is those who qualify for one of these pathways right away, Group 2 is those who don’t yet meet the requirements for either pathway, and Group 3 is those who are not interested in becoming registered.

  1. Group 1 will work with the board-approved credentialing entity (or the state board) to complete the process of verifying hours and submitting an endorsement from a qualified individual. Once they have received a certification, they will be eligible to apply for a registration with the state and use the title protected terms.
  2. Group 2 will be eligible to apply for a provisional registration with the SBVM – essentially declaring their intention to meet the requirements of one of the pathways by December 31, 2027. The window to apply for a provisional registration will be open for 1 year, from January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023. Once they meet the requirements of one of the pathways, they will work with the board-approved credentialing entity (or the state board) to complete the process of verifying hours, submitting an endorsement, and checking VTNE score if applicable. Once they have received a certification, they will be eligible to apply for a registration with the state and continue to use the title protected terms. If they fail to meet the requirements by the December 31, 2027 deadline, their provisional registration expires, and they can no longer use the title protected terms.
  3. Group 3 will be people who are not interested in registration but want to continue to do the job. There is no task restriction for anyone, so they will be able to continue working in their current roles but will not be able to call themselves a veterinary technician after December 31, 2023.

CACVT will continue to monitor the developments around veterinary technician regulation very closely and will communicate details through their website (cacvt.org) and mailing list. Bel-Rea is very excited about these advancements in the veterinary profession!