The Value of Credentialed Veterinary Technicians
Posted by Emma Rose Gallimore on January 24, 2020
Credentialed Veterinary Technicians can bring real value to your veterinary clinic or hospital. Yet many veterinary healthcare providers are under-utilizing these highly skilled team members. To realize the full value that CVTs can bring, you must create space in your practice for veterinary technicians to apply their training.
Allowing veterinary technicians to do everything possible under their license is good medicine. It improves efficiency, allows veterinarians to focus on the tasks that only they can do, and enables your hospital or clinic to see more patients while upholding high standards of care. As Dr. Jim Hurrell, Penn Foster’s Veterinary Technician Program Director Emeritus, is fond of saying, “Good medicine is good business.” Analysis by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that the typical veterinarian’s gross income increased by $93,311 for each additional credentialed veterinary technician added to the practice. Those numbers are over a decade old, but Dr. Jim sees plenty of reason to believe that the increase could be even higher today, especially if veterinary care providers allow credentialed vet techs to work to the top of their license.
In short, you must trust you Veterinary Technicians to fully utilize all of their skills in caring for your patients. Understand what tasks they are allowed to perform under the laws of your state, and give them the freedom to do so. Only then can you gain the full value that Credentialed Veterinary Technicians can bring to your practice.
Making room for value
Right now, there aren’t enough veterinarians to meet demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 18% growth in the demand for veterinarians by 2028. Demand for veterinary technicians is expected to grow even faster at 19%. It’s in the best interest of all veterinary care providers to find ways to streamline care and improve efficiency while still upholding the highest quality standards.
That’s why Banfield Animal Hospitals helped to pioneer the vet tech appointment, which enables clients to make an appointment with a Credentialed Veterinary Technician instead of with the veterinarian. These appointments are less expensive for the client, enable the hospital to see more patients, and free the veterinarian to spend the bulk of their time with the pets that need them most.
Vet tech appointments are just one way forward-thinking veterinary care providers are maximizing the value of Credentialed Veterinary Technicians. Even within the traditional appointment structure CVT’s can take on many tasks that might otherwise consume the veterinarian’s time. To gain the biggest value from CVT’s, follow these four steps.
- Understand what Credentialed Veterinary Technicians can do
Whether they studied through online vet tech programs or traditional education, veterinary technicians must meet strict AVMA/CVTA guidelines to earn certification. That means all of your Credentialed Veterinary Technicians have a core set of skills that you can utilize in your practice or hospital. In the broadest terms, CVT’s may not diagnose, prescribe medication, or perform surgery. However, in most states, they can take on almost any task outside of those core veterinarian responsibilities.
For a full list, you can review your state's safe practice act or review the AVMA summary of veterinary technician responsibilities. This information is broken down by state and the AVMA updates it regularly. Check the guidelines for your state to understand what credentialed vet techs are allowed to do under the law.
- Explain their role to the team and clients
Some members of your team may have reservations about allowing veterinary technicians to take on more responsibility. To put everyone at ease, make sure the team understands what Credentialed Veterinary Technicians can and cannot do. Explain that credentialed technicians are highly trained professionals who have completed a rigorous testing process. They are subject to continuing education requirements and must continuously improve their skills. If reservations persist, keep the conversation going. Most people are more comfortable doing what they’ve always done rather than making even the most valuable changes. It may take time to convince them.
You may also need to have similar conversations with your clients. Pet owners want what is best for their pets. If they don’t understand what a credentialed vet tech can do, they may be hesitant to trust the quality of care these professionals provide. Explain the benefits of allowing your vet techs to work semi-independently, and reassure them that a veterinarian will always be on-site to support their pet if needed.
- Implement smart processes
Legal and liability questions might seem daunting, but many states have clear guidelines about what Credentialed Veterinary Technicians can and cannot do. Banfield was able to launch vet tech appointments in each of the 43 states where they have hospitals by creating clear processes and procedures that follow the guidelines of each state. You can do the same.
Procedure documents should outline what responsibilities the CVT will take on, versus which ones belong to the veterinarian. Create processes around when the veterinarian should be called into the examination, and how CVT’s and veterinarians will work together. To protect your patients and your practice, only offer vet tech appointments when the veterinarian is on site.
Finally, take the individual technician’s skills and preferences into account. You can create an in-house skills assessment so the Veterinarian feels comfortable with the veterinary technician's abilities. Allow technicians to opt out of any task they feel uncomfortable with.
- Train Credentialed Veterinary Technicians
If you have ambitious veterinary assistants or non-credentialed veterinary technicians on your team you should consider helping them to work toward certification. Much of the added value of having veterinary technicians on staff comes from the rigorous training and testing process. Online vet tech programs can help employees study toward certification while working full-time.
Working learners bring immediate benefits to your veterinary practice. As they study, they learn new skills that they can apply on the job. Show these employees you appreciate their hard work by offering pay increases as they work through the program.
- Test and Improve
Adopting a whole new structure of responsibilities can take time. Don’t get discouraged by initial roadblocks. Make an effort to talk through issues with your team. As your processes and procedures evolve, you’ll begin to see the increased value veterinary technicians can bring to your hospital or practice.
Penn Foster can help
Not all online vet tech programs are created equal. Penn Foster’s Veterinary Technician Degree is a flexible AVMA-CVTEA fully accredited Veterinary Technician training program. While earning their associate’s degree, students prepare for the VTNE exam to become a credentialed veterinary technician. Contact a Penn Foster training expert today and start seeing the real value Credentialed Veterinary Technicians can offer.