Those drawn to the veterinary medical field are often motivated primarily by their passion and dedication to animals and their well-being. From a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) to a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant, working with animals is more than a way to earn a paycheck - it's also about doing work that can make a positive impact on patients and their humans. Veterinary practices, whether corporate or private, that employ trained and credentialed veterinary technicians can build a team that is not only devoted to their work, but confident in their ability to effectively do that work. Even better, that confidence and passion for what they do can have a positive impact on the practice's gross revenue. While these profits may not be the most important motivator to veterinarians and veterinary technicians, it does ensure that the practice can grow, develop, and maintain a high standard of quality patient care.
But there's a growing need for veterinary technicians - the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 20% increase in positions by 2026 - that is becoming difficult to keep up with. Animal medicine is a rewarding, but often emotionally stressful industry and turnover is often higher than normal. To fill these gaps, maintain appointments and draw new clients, many practices are forced to hire untrained, non-credentialed, inexperienced workers who can start immediately, beginning a cycle of hiring and turnover that can harm office morale. Quick-win hiring - hiring that is geared toward finding a body to fill a shift slot versus bringing on trained and credentialed veterinary technicians - can also impact practice performance and profits
Hiring uncredentialed vet techs is a quick win that could hurt your bottom line.
There's a known shortage of credentialed veterinary technicians in the United States, and an increasing need for skilled veterinary technicians at practices across the country, according to a 2016 National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) survey. The burgeoning skills gap, which is often thought to be an exclusively middle skilled and trades-centric dilemma, is bleeding into medical professions and its impact is taking a toll on private and corporate veterinary practices. Coupled with a turnover rate two times higher than comparable industries, vacant veterinary technician roles at practices add stress to an already emotionally demanding profession, can be costly for patients - and a practice's bottom line.
To ameliorate the hiring predicament veterinarians and practice managers find themselves in, taking on untrained, non-credentialed workers seems the most reasonable course of action. Besides being able to fill an open position quickly, the new "veterinary technician-in-training can be taught to complete tasks and processes the way the practice manager or veterinarian prefers versus industry standards . But what may seem like an easy win can often feed into the high stress, emotionally tense atmosphere of an overworked practice , actually can increase the turnover rate and possibly lead to a decrease in the quality of medicine at these practices. Instead of stretching stressed employees thin to cover office needs, investing in training and credentialing current employees to become veterinary technicians can build a thriving practice.
Education and credentialing impacts performance.
Education and credentialing are more than a piece of paper; it shows that the person who earned it has met the highest standards in their field and that they are prepared and confident practitioners. The credentialed veterinary technician has studied hard to learn and understand veterinary nursing skills in order to be as effective as possible in their career. That knowledge is integral to performance in the role of veterinary technician and impacts not only how they do their job, but how the practice as a whole performs. With capable, confident workers in vital roles to support veterinarians and patients, the team is able to see more clients, on-the-job stressors are lessened, and retention of skilled veterinary technicians increases.
Besides developing a strong veterinary health care team, hiring and training credentialed veterinary technicians has been proven to substantially increase practice revenue. The number of credentialed veterinary technicians per veterinarian in a practice has a significant impact on practice profits overall. The average gross revenue for those practices with more credentialed techs per DVM was calculated at $93,311 in the 2008 AVMA Biennial Economic Survey of United States Veterinarians*. The return on investment for corporate and private veterinary practices is substantial and the cost of upskilling and credentialing current staff will not only improve business, but may also be necessary in the future.
More states are requiring credentialing for veterinary technicians.
Hiring inexperienced and non-credentialed workers may be a short-term solution to veterinary practice staffing issues. But with more and more states moving to require credentialing for practicing veterinary technicians, upskilling and educating current employees will become vital. Each state has different requirements and language for credentialing. Some states certify, including Arizona, Arkansas, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Some states license or register veterinary technicians, such as Michigan and Louisiana.
While the language can become confusing from state to state, the end result is still the same: requirements are in place to ensure that those working in the field are capable and knowledgeable professionals. Currently, only a handful of states don't have processes in place that require some sort of training, education, or testing to work in the field. That's likely to change in the coming years with veterinary technicians having to take on higher-skilled tasks to fill the gaps left by employee turnover. Medical procedures, administration of medication, vaccines, and more, will require in-depth education that is measurable through examinations such as the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
As new regulations are put in place by State Boards of Veterinary Medicine, rushing to educate and credential employees at the last minute can not only put a strain on a practice's budget, it can mean cancelled appointments because the office is short staffed. Instead of waiting for a state mandate, putting in place a plan to educate, train, and credential your current employees ahead of time can not only ensure a stable schedule, but also improve employee retention.
Increasing a veterinary technician's confidence through a developed program that can prepare them for state boards and the VTNE builds employee loyalty that leads to higher productivity, better patient care, and more. But sending staff to brick and mortar colleges is very difficult as those programs require students to be full time for two year. That's where Penn Foster's Veterinary Technician Program, an online workforce solution accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), can help.
Upskill and train your employees with Penn Foster.
One of a handful of AVMA-CVTEA accredited online Veterinary Technician programs, Penn Foster's Veterinary Technician Program stands out as an educational alternative for busy employees. We also have more programs in our Veterinary Academy, including programs for training veterinary assistants, and veterinary practice managers. This allows practices to provide a path toward further education and credentialing that can benefit both the employees and the practice itself. Through trusted, self-paced coursework led by a dedicated team of veterinary professionals, learners can pair what they may have already learned on the job with academic concepts.
Prepare your veterinary health care team and your practice for growth. Our workforce solutions can be tailored to your needs. Find out more and increase your practice potential today.
*AVMA. AVMA report on veterinary practice business measures. 2009 ed. Schaumburg, Ill: AVMA, 2009