"Hot Topic" Survey Results
Our "Hot Topic" survey was open from January 17 - 27th, 2023 and promoted via various social media outlets as well as email campaigns to our members and subscribers. We invited not only RVTs but DVMs, assistants, and students to weigh in. The survey received 198 responses with 148 (74.4%) self-identifying as RVTs, 28 (14.1%) as unregistered assistants, 15 (7.6%) as technician students, and the remaining 7 (3.5%) as DVMs. This data was presented to Missouri Veterinary Medical Association's RVT Utilization Taskforce committee members at their annual meeting on Friday, January 27th.
At a Glance...
- A majority of respondents agree that "nurse" should not be used to refer to veterinary staff.
- The preferred title for credentialed technicians is "RVT" and unregistered assistants should be "veterinary assistant"
- The largest issue facing MO Technicians is low pay & benefits.
- Nearly 80% of respondents agree that title protection, enforcement, and a national standardized credentialing requirement is important to them.
Raw data may be viewed here.
Title preference for credentialed technicians ranked "Registered Veterinary Technician" as "most preferable" with "nurse" as "least preferable"
Title preference for "unregistered assistants" ranked "veterinary assistant" as "most preferable", with "least preferable" tying for "veterinary nurse" and "nurse". "Technician" was closely behind "nurse" for "least preferable".
Missouri Veterinary Practice Act definitions
Respondents were then given definitions of "registered veterinary technician" and "unregistered assistant" from our current practice act and asked if they "agree" or "disagreed" with the following statements. Over 75% of respondents agreed that, per the practice act, non-credentialed staff should be legally referred to as "unregistered assistants" and not "technicians".
Missouri Nursing Practice Act definitions
Respondents were then given the definition of "nurse" from The Missouri Nursing Practice Act MO 335.076 and asked if they agreed or disagreed with the following statements. Over 90% of respondents agreed that non-credentialed staff and 56% of respondents agreed that credentialied staff should not be referred to as "nurses" based on the Nursing Practice Act 335.076.
The Biggest Issue Facing MO Technicians
Respondents were then asked to rank issues from 1 (most problematic) to 6 (least problematic). By far and large, the highest ranked "most problematic" issue facing technicians in Missouri was low salary and poor benefits, followed by title protection. The least problematic was "no career advancement".
Title Protection, Enforcement, Standardized Credentialing Requirement
Nearly 80% of respondents agree that title protection, enforcement, and a national standardized credentialing requirement is important to them. Interestingly, of the 7 DVM respondents these numbers fell - only 5 of the 7 agreed that a national standardized credential was important (with 1 strongly disagreeing), and 5 agreeing that title protection and enforcement was important with 2 respondents "strongly disagreeing".
Comments are copy & pasted verbatim from the "hot topic" survey and are being shared as a reference only.
- "Beyond tired, of having Veterinarians refer to Lay personnel and Assistants as Technicians. Also, I know of too many individuals who failed their state boards or never took them and they are employed and present themselves as Veterinary Technicians. There has to be a way of tracking these individuals after graduation. Back in the day, we had to take our state boards before we graduated. There has to be ramifications of presenting oneself in this manner and financial penalties for Veterinarians employing them as such. These individuals are monitoring anesthesia, performing dentals, etc.
- "The Veterinarians, in their money saving approach to hiring, are the culprits in these matters. Nothing is going to change until they get on board.
- "I can go either way in using the term nurse. I think if we had title protection and eventually a mid level practitioner, then it would make sense to call unregistered people assistant, licensed people Registered technicians and then the mid level people veterinary nurses maybe to help distinguish.
- "Unregistered assistants should be called Veterinary Assistants. It’s less degrading.
- "Small practices seem to be having a hard time meeting ends meet as it is (not sure how true it may be) but paying more to registered veterinary technicians (to pay their actual worth) makes me worried practices will cut staff and the case load as is is sometimes overwhelming. I’m concerned about how to pay the people doing front line work livable wages while keeping us on a realistic case load. I also believe if the drug companies weren’t overpaid the money would be more available to us.
- "Lack of job shadowing in different areas to allow students to see where they would best be utilized throughout the vet field
- "Help find jobs for the graduates from school as a vet tech without the license
- "I think making regulations for what RVTs can do vs what unregistered assistants can would be a good start- ie working with controlled drugs, administering controlled drugs, intubated, ect.
- "I do want credentialed VTs to be called nurses but only if the practice act is updated to reflect that it’s okay to do so
- "I believe being divided on titles will prevent us from actually achieving healthy workplaces. We shouldn’t be arguing against each other.
- "I think the term "veterinary nurse" would make the public's understanding of the role better, but I understand why we should not be called that.
- "The public has no idea about reg VS not reg w/2 year degree VS OTJ trained. Where I work, we have 2 that have 2 year degree & not reg, 1 that is just short the 2 year degree because her school closed, and 2 OTJ trained. We are all called 'technicians' which to the client makes sense (and to me, too) or 'nurses' which to the client makes sense (but I don't like this title). Asking the staff to say the mouthful of unregistered VT to clients does not make sense to the client or may to the client mean that we don't know what we are doing. I certainly understand about protecting a title, but to the gen public, they don't know. In addition, calling me an assistant, but I have a 2 year degree, does not quite seem like the correct title. OTJ trained should be assistant, but not w/a 2 year degree. Hard topic, I know.
- "Anyone who put the effort into becoming an RVT should always outrank anyone who is an veterinary assistant.
- "There should be some sort of punishment for practice managers/veterinarians calling non-credentialed staff or non-credentialed using the title of technician/veterinary technician.
- "I am Reg in Missouri, but recently moved to TX and I am licensed here, too. I am a CPhT, too in MO and TX.
- "I believe anyone who is unregistered should NOT receive the title of technician, nurse, etc. They are an assistant, veterinary assistant, etc.
- "Unregistered assistants are a huge hindrance to the advancement of this field.
- "All of the above!
- "The lack of enforcement of the laws and policies that guide what is allowed and by whom encourages those who are unregistered or those who have allowed their license to expire without renewal to perform the tasks that RVTs perform. It makes the title of RVT meaningless and degrades our profession.
- "wages for registered technicians are below living-wage, do not agree with the amount of revenue that they bring in and responsibility associated with the job
- "It was hard to rank the biggest issues we're facing. I think they're all about even in the grand scheme of things. I feel that we're underutilized in part because of unregistered assistants as well as underpaid. Most practices seem to want to pay everyone the same and not necessarily what they are worth. It makes it seem as if all of those issues are related to each other.
- "I believe that most of these problems are intertwined and by making changes in one other changes will subsequently follow.
- "People working under licensed DVMs deserve a living wage. RVTsdeserve recognition and fair compensation for their certification.
- "I do not like being called nurse. I find it demeaning to my profession as we do more than a nurse might within their field to be frank. However in Europe it it widely used. I understand how this is important to some but I’m not looking to leave this field because I’m called or not called a nurse. It’s because of my cost of living or my declining mental state usually due to clients. This is the first survey I have ever received and I’m a little peeved it’s more over protecting the title nurse not the fact that nurses come into OUR hospitals every day and BULLY us because they think they are smarter while they do not work on animals. I would rather see something similar to a Union (which is something I cannot explore due to where I work, they would shut the whole hospital down. Corporate would not care) Title protection is wonderful but it seems like it’s for human nurses. Also I want to continue to be called tech. I worked long to be able to well rounded and all areas of my hospital.
- "Our profession will never advance if we do not get national standardized credential requirement. This is, in my opinion, the biggest factor in why we have such low salary/benefits. As great as our OTJ uncredentialed techs are, I know we all want to get paid better and want to receive the respect we deserve, but we can’t do that if we have multiple names for the same important position.
- "I would prefer that credentialed veterinary professionals be referred to as “veterinary nurse” because it more accurately describes our scope of practice and skills, making the profession more relatable to the public.
- "For the medical work a registered technician does, they should be paid accordingly. This will lead to better respect and utilization of our abilities. I don’t care about specific titles as long as the scope of practice between registered and unregistered is defined, respected, and enforced.
- "One of the biggest problems in Missouri specifically with regards to recruiting more RVTs and Veterinarians to the state is reciprocity. The MVMA* makes it extremely challenging for people with licenses in other states to obtain their license here. You want more RVTs? the MVMA* board and the office workers there must do a better job and actually care instead of making things as challenging as possible.
- *MOVTA believes this respondent is referring to the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board (MVMB), as they are responsible for licensing in Missouri, not the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA).
- "I feel like there needs to be set distinctions between coworkers who are truly assistants and those who have their vet tech degree but no license.
- "I think lumping both sets of people under non-credentialed assistants isn’t accurate and is insulting. A person who graduated from a vet tech program and a person with no experience in vet med have very different roles, expectations, and skills in a multitude of areas.
- "Personally I think those who graduated from a vet tech program (but aren’t licensed) should be labeled as technicians or non-credentialed technicians. And those without a degree are simply assistants.
- "The ridiculously hard reciprocity rules in MO.
- "The lack of enforcement of the policies that govern veterinary medicine enables individuals without credentials to perform the tasks of an RVT and make our credentials meaningless.
- "I would like to see more opportunity to help in practice by RVT’s and what we are legally allowed to do with supervision. More like the human medicine role of Licensed Nurse Practitioner.
- "I was a RVT for 13 years. Having my license was really of no benefit to me & was actually an additional expense of time & money for me to maintain that I sometimes couldn't afford. I let my license lapse a few years ago & now that I have an employer who actually wants to support my status as a RVT, it's going to take too much time & money for me to get my license renewed (retake tests, CE, etc) that it's just not feasible. Now, it looks like you don't even want to call me a technician? If you have a formal education & training, that makes you a technician, whether you're licensed or not.
- "I believe that until the MO nursing practice act is changed to include "registered veterinary nurse", we should continue to be called Registered Veterinary Technicians. I am absolutely in favor of being called a veterinary nurse if and only if the MO nursing practice act changes.
- "Title protection and enforcement is NEEDED. Regardless of what my opinion is on title preference and usage, the practice act is the practice act and the law should be honored and enforced. I think lack of enforcement is sending a clear message to veterinary team members that the laws don't really matter. Furthermore, we NEED a more defined scope of practice with protected tasks for RVTs. It's laughable that the only task an assistant can't do is induction, especially when every clinic I've worked at has allowed non-credentialed staff to do inductions. Veterinarians need to be told that by allowing non-credentialed staff to perform induction, etc, that they are breaking the law and risking their license. Until there are real repercussions for veterinarians that refer to their staff using illegal titles and allow OTJ/non credentialed staff members to do tasks that are outside their legal scope of practice, this cycle will continue and value of RVTs will continue to go down and we WILL continue losing GOOD technicians.
- "I’ve earned and am proud of my RVT title. In the 20 years that I’ve had this title there has been more of a decline of recognition of that title. A doctor once told me a monkey could do my job. On the upside, I’ve worked with veterinarians and managers that sought me out because of my license.
- "I am not a registered technician and do not understand why title protection is such a huge deal. We all work at the same job, some are more advanced than others and they might not be registered. I've seen rvt's more worried about what people call them than their performance on the job. I give rvt's the respect they deserve but I don't see what the big deal is. I do the same technician work so I am a unregistered technician.
- "name game is not nearly as important as rules and enforcements - years have been spent on names and we have been called many things - nothing has changed; bickering continues - rare to see any punishment handed down -
- "I believe there is plenty room for advancement but not in your standard animal hospital
- "I feel as though in vet med there’s a big gap between RVT, VT (techs who graduated from school but have not taken/passed VTNE, and Vet Assistants (no training, on the job learning only). Even when you look up what each position can do some say no placing catheters unless you’ve been to school/ monitoring anesthesia (agreed), but others are vaguely worded. It allows for lax rules in a hospital especially when so many are understaffed with trained technicians.
- "The way the questions are structured are biased
- "We are not being offered appropriate wages for our skill levels
- "What we do is so much broader than just nursing. I feel that referring to credentialed technicians as nurses is an insult to veterinary medicine as a whole. Nurses have aids and phlebotomists,lab techs galore, people who do everything we still do and more. Watering down the title of our role I feel will undervalue our skills leading to a decrease in recognition of the importance of our role in field. Thus leading to decreased wages less employment opportunities and increased mental health concerns which is already a massive struggle in this field.
- "The advancement in Zoo Med is too difficult to get into.
- "I think it would help to verbally differentiate them from noncredential assistants, but the biggest thing sending them fleeing from the profession is the pay.
- "So many “technicians” have been to school and either not taken their boards at all or failed and not tested a second time. Many of these workers are in immense debt from school, when you look at debt to income ratio. Due to current state of veterinary environment, many “technicians” don’t always see the value in following through and getting their license. I would love to see employers make it a marked difference between RVT and non registered “technicians”.