Changing term 'Veterinary Technician' to 'Veterinary Nurse'

Penn Foster College Joins NAVTA on Changing term 'Veterinary Technician' to 'Veterinary Nurse'

March 08, 2016

This was originally published on and appears in full below.

James Hurrell, DVM and Director of the Veterinary Academy at Penn Foster College, today endorsed the National Association of Veterinary Technicians' (NAVTA) initiative to elevate the status of the profession of "veterinary technician" to "veterinary nurse." Dr. Hurrell declared that the new term will "bring more understanding and respect to the people that assist veterinarians with the healthcare of animals."

Dr. Hurrell announced his endorsement at the 2016 Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) in Las Vegas. 

“This proposed change to ‘veterinary nurse’ has been gaining momentum for a while, both for practical reasons within the field of veterinary medicine, and also for reasons of professional standing and recognition for individual practitioners,” Dr. Hurrell said in a press release.

Penn Foster's Veterinary Academy director explained that the name change would bring more respect for a profession whose current title is hard to explain to the public, and forge greater understanding of the educational and professional achievements by those who will be called "veterinary nurse."

In the field of veterinary medicine, depending on the state an individual works in, the term ‘veterinary technician’ can be used by anyone who has been trained on-the-job, even if he or she has not graduated from an accredited veterinary technician program, and/or not taken the national examination to become a Registered Veterinary Technician.

By changing the name of the profession to “veterinary nurse,” Dr. Hurrell expects:

  • The term “veterinary nurse” will only be allowed to be used by someone who has graduated from an accredited Veterinary Nursing program and passed the national examination to become a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN);
  • On-the-job trained veterinary assistants in veterinary practices will not be allowed to call themselves veterinary nurses; and 
  • The pet- and animal-owning public will recognize the term “nurse” and inherently better understand what the job duties entail.

While NAVTA, Dr. Hurrell, and others in the veterinary industry believe this professional name change will take some time, they are heartened that some national publications have already taken initiative and have replaced the term “veterinary technician” with “veterinary nurse.”

For more information about Dr. Hurrell and Penn Foster, visit their website



The Close It Summit 2017

Join Penn Foster and hundreds of leaders in learning, recruitment, and workforce development for the 2017 Close It Summit to highlight and discuss competency-based education, training, and hiring. We’re excited to be part of two events at this year’s conference:

Penn Foster + Chicago CRED High School Graduation
Wednesday, September 27th at 11:00AM
Join Penn Foster and the Honorable Arne Duncan in celebrating the graduation of Chicago CRED participants from Penn Foster High School.

Workshop: “Why Now? A Case for Change”
Wednesday, September 27th at 3:00PM
Penn Foster CEO Frank Britt joins thought leaders to discuss how industry must change to meet the needs of the millennial worker and why addressing the skills gap now is imperative.



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