Letter to dvm360: Why are we arguing about what industry can use the term nurse?

December 4, 2018
Michael Petty, DVM, CVPP, CVMA, CCRT, CAAPM

Dr. Michael Petty, DVM, CVPP, CVMA, CCRT, CAAPM, owns Arbor Pointe Veterinary Hospital, Canton, Michigan.

dvm360, dvm360 January 2019, Volume 50, Issue 1

The debate over the potential title change for veterinary technicians is ridiculous, says Dr. Michael Petty.

"As a nurse shark, I'm highly offended that another group would try to use part of my name."

Editor's note: This letter is in response to the article “RNs fight veterinary technicians over the word ‘nurse'.”

As a nurse shark that has descended from a long line of nurse sharks, I am vehemently opposed to the adoption of the title “nurse” to describe veterinary technicians. It was bad enough when humans who care for other humans adopted the term-this additional insult will just dilute the meaning and value of my species.

In all seriousness, there is enough tribalism in today's world (political affiliations, religion, race, etc.) without arguing about a name change that is only meant to more properly describe the duties that veterinary technicians perform. I have always been bothered by the title “technician,” which seems more appropriate to describe other jobs in the medical field, such as laboratory technician.

The veterinary nurses in my practice perform the same duties as an LPN or RN. I would even argue that they're more qualified for many procedures than most human nurses are-for example, anesthesia and dentistry. To claim that one segment of the medical profession “owns” a job descriptor is ridiculous. And by the way, Ms. Haebler's claim that veterinarians are never referred to as physicians, although true in the U.S., is not true in other parts of the world. Titles vary depending on geography.

I hope that this argument over what our veterinary nurses are called is settled within the veterinary community and not subject to pressure from other industries like it is right now. Next month I am going to write an opinion from the nurse shark's distant relative, the doctor fish, about the misappropriation of that poor creature's name as well.

Dr. Michael Petty, DVM, CVPP, CVMA, CCRT, CAAPM, owns Arbor Pointe Veterinary Hospital, Canton, Michigan.

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