The latest on the Veterinary Nurse Initiative

September 22, 2018
Kristi Reimer Fender, News Channel Director

Kristi Reimer is editor of dvm360 magazine and news channel director for Before taking over

Banfield industry summit offers an update on the professions efforts to change technicians title to registered veterinary nurse.

At the 2018 Pet Healthcare Industry Summit hosted Sept. 11 in Portland, Oregon, by Banfield Pet Hospital, organizers offered an update on the Veterinary Nurse Initiative (VNI) and countered the idea that human nurses have the right to tell the veterinary industry what to do.

“The success of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative depends on whether a group with nothing to do with the veterinary profession gets to say no,” said Mark Cushing, JD, an attorney with the Animal Policy Group who's been hired by NAVTA to lead the initiative's lobbying efforts. “Yet nine different healthcare professions use the word ‘doctor.' Do we really believe that ‘nurse' is that different or special?”

The VNI has worked in two states this year to pass legislation allowing the “registered veterinary nurse” title change. A bill failed in Tennessee after intense lobbying from human nurses. In Ohio, a bill passed out of committee but is pending a vote on the House floor-a vote that's complicated by a political scandal involving the speaker of the house.

On a positive note for the VNI, Purdue University in April changed the name of its veterinary technology degree programs to associate's and bachelor's degrees in veterinary nursing.

Cushing is confident the initiative can make headway next year, but he is asking the industry to rally around the cause. Specifically, the VNI is broke and needs companies to help shore up the effort, to the tune of $250,000 per year, he says.

“We've got to beat the nurses in three or four states and they can move on to other issues,” Cushing said, “but we cannot go any farther without funding. NAVTA funded it for one year but they don't have the resources to go farther with it.”