VMX 2020—How to onboard an approved veterinary assistant

January 22, 2020

Veterinary technician Janet McConnell shares some useful tips on how to introduce and onboard a new approved veterinary assistant.

Properly onboarding a new approved veterinary assistant (AVA) can really elevate your veterinary team, says Janet McConnell, CVT, director of veterinary nursing development at Compassion-First Pet Hospitals.

The AVA designation, which was created by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), is used in practices across the United States.

According to NAVTA's website, "upon graduation from a NAVTA-approved veterinary assistant program, a participant is eligible to sit for the approved veterinary assistant examination. Upon successful completion of the exam, the participant would be entitled to use the designation AVA and would receive a documenting certificate."

At this year’s Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX), held this week in Orlando, Fla., McConnell told dvm360 that when it comes to onboarding your AVAs, you need to keep in mind that many of them are just starting their veterinary career, so mentorship is very important.

“We want to make sure we include a lot of mentorship and empowerment, and appreciate the designation that they’ve earned and the effort they put into earning that," she said.

It's also important for the team to utilize all the skills the AVAs learned during their education, which will help them feel more valuable, McConnell said.

Onboarding also helps AVAs provide a career growth pathway to becoming a veterinary technician, which is one of the goals of the AVA program, she added.

You also want to acquiant your clients with your new AVA, so encourage AVAs to introduce themselves, McConnell said. Having their AVA designation on their scrubs and displaying their certificates in the office can help put clients at ease.

“Clients appreciate knowing they have an educated team member working with their pets.”

Hear more of McConnell’s suggestions for onboarding a new AVA in the video below.