Tech vs. nurse: The national credential initiative cheat sheet

October 14, 2016

Don't be embarrassed if you don't understand (or haven't kept up with) NAVTA's National Credential Initiative. Here's a quick breakdown of what it isand what it means for veterinary technicians (and the profession). Bonus: No test at the end!

Do you need a recap of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America's (NAVTA) national credential initiative? Here are the details in a nutshell as dvm360 content specialist Hannah Wagle interviews Ken Yagi, BS, RVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM).

Need the cheat sheet?

The summary

NAVTA is pushing a national credential initiative to bring more uniformity to the credentialing status of technicians. Depending on the state you're in, being a "veterinary technician" could mean:

• Your credentialing is regulated by the government

• It's a private credential

• This is a title someone gave you when you started working at a veterinary practice and there's no credentialing system in your state

The alphabet soup of credentials

Depending on the state you live in, you might be a:

• Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT)

• Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT)

• Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT)

• Licensed Veterinary Medical Technician (LVMT)

And in some states there's no credentialing at all.

Ken explains it here:


We know what you're thinking. Why now? Click "Next" to read about the survey data to change the title from veterinary technician to veterinary nurse.



The national credential initiative has two goals

1. Standardize the credentialing requirements throughout the nation so veterinary technicians receive the same education.

2. Unify the title. Instead of CVT, LVT, RVT and LVMT, veterinary technicians will unite under a single title to create a consistent identity. One proposed title: veterinary nurse. Why? To bring recognition to the profession. Or, in a nutshell, so pet owners have a better idea of the job you perform at a veterinary practice.

This conversation has been around for decades. Why now?

As NAVTA makes the move to standardize the credentialing requirements and the title, it seems like an obvious time to consolidate under veterinary nurse.

NAVTA has completed a few surveys-the first with veterinary leaders throughout the country, including board members, veterinary technician associations and VTS academies. In this survey, 73.3% of respondents favored the term nurse, and 97% said they want to unify the title.

In the 2016 NAVTA demographic survey, within the technician population 54% favored the term nurse, 37% wanted veterinary technician and the rest were undecided. 

Here's what Firstline readers had to say earlier this year.

Ken explains more here:

Right now you're thinking the demographic survey makes it seem like there's big split.

One of the main reasons respondents reported they favored the title "veterinary technician" was because they didn't believe it was possible to change the title. Specifically there's a concern about title protection for nurses in the nursing community.

Ken explains why (and the next steps) here:

National Association of Veterinary …

The good news: NAVTA and the VTS academies don't need to visit their local Division of Motor Vehicles or Social Security Administration to change their name. But there is some paperwork involved.

So are you ready to join:

the National Association of Veterinary Nurses in America (NAVNA)

And be a:

Veterinary Nurse Specialist?

What will the name really be? NATVA Executive Director Julie Legred, CVT, says, "We have not yet determined this for sure, but we will change to the proposed title change across the board-for technicians, veterinary technician specialists, assistants, etc.-once the title is determined."

Share your thoughts (including name suggestions) with us at

In the past, in some states technicians have encountered problems trying to change their title to veterinary nurse and faced opposition from nurses because of it.

On closer examination, NAVTA found that in 26 states, title protection for nurses likely won't be a problem-at this point. NAVTA is also working with the nursing advocacy and regulating organizations to engage in a dialogue to explain the education veterinary technicians go through and compare the professions.

One common objection: Some technicians say they do more than nurses. NAVTA's suggestion: Educate yourself on what nurses really do, including the structure nurses have for additional certifications and the job roles that they do in different settings to accurately compare it to the veterinary technician profession. They think you'll see more similarities than differences.

Next step?

Make up your minds. 54 to 37 is a big split. NAVTA wants a mandate for change. (Share your opinion with NAVTA with the survey here.)

We lied. There is a test at the end.

Pop quiz

What should you do next?

A. Get educated on the topic (you just did that-horray! A+)

B. Share your thoughts (Hey, wait! There's a poll right here on the right. You can totally do this!)

C. Find more info about the National Credential Initiative at (but totally take the poll first) and talk to your national and state associations

D. All of the above