The credentialed technician does more than play an assistant's role.
What's the advantage of hiring a credentialed equine technician instead of a veterinary assistant or layperson? Time, money, and an employee who is invested in your practice, says Deborah Reeder, RVT, executive director and former president of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT). Reeder says equine practitioners should consider hiring credentialed veterinary technicians for three reasons:
1. Dedication. Reeder says credentialed technicians have chosen this line of work as a career and have invested time and money into advancing it. "By hiring (a credentialed technician), you're making an investment in someone who's probably here for the long term," she says. "This can save you a lot of time and money because you are less likely to be rehiring and retraining, which happens when you hire someone who is just looking for a job."
2. Education. Having completed an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited (AVMA), two-year program, credentialed technicians have acquired the physiological knowledge and the reasons for procedures and medicine. "They'll also stay abreast of industry news and medical updates, as they are required to maintain continuing education credits," she says. "Staying up-to-date means better service and more qualified, educated staff, which is always a major factor in terms of revenue potential."
3. Facilitation. Credentialed technicians are aware of state and national laws and regulations that may affect equine technicians and assistants, which helps keep the practice compliant. Licensing requirements for technicians in each state can be found on the American Association of Veterinary State Boards' (AAVSB) website at www.aavsb.org/DLR/DLR.aspx. If there are tasks your technician is licensed to do but is not doing them, assign those tasks to them. Leveraging staff will save time for more appointments, which equals more revenue.
Each state has its own laws and regulations regarding how veterinary technicians are utilized and what steps or exams they must take to become credentialed. All technicians must take a national test administered by the AAVSB and must have completed a two-year AVMA-accredited veterinary technology program (some states are exceptions), or be grandfathered in. However, Reeder says these programs often lack sufficient equine-specific training, hands-on experience, or testing. When an equine practitioner is looking for a new employee, the terms LVT, RVT, CVT, or "animal health" technician may not clearly relay what skills a particular technician has or is proficient in, she says.
To fill the equine gap in the accredited programs and to offer equine-only educational courses, the AAEVT offers nine online certification courses that include more than just a written test component. "The goal is to provide equine-only courses and some kind of standard so that a practitioner hiring an AAEVT certified technician will know the quality of equine education and training he or she has received," Reeder says.
All AAEVT online courses are for credentialed equine technicians, students going through an accredited AVMA program who want more equine training, and for the many equine assistants who do not have the opportunity or choose not to attend a credentialed program. Online course participants must have an equine practitioner sign them off on a list of required skills and attend one of the AAEVT's regional symposiums or annual conference, at which their horsemanship skills are tested, evaluated, and certified by AAEVT Board members.
"By observing the participants in the wet labs and in our basic horsemanship testing, we can make sure they walk the walk," Reeder says. "It shows us that they know their way around a horse and that they work well with horses. Often a practitioner will hire whoever has the best horse handling skills. But, if a participant takes our certificate of completion to a prospective employer, that employer will have more confidence that the applicant can do the job and has received some background education in equine."
To learn more about the AAEVT, its nine-course online certification program, and upcoming CE and wet lab courses, log on to www.aaevt.org.