Veterinary Nurse Initiative

 The Michigan Association of Veterinary Technicians endorses the pursuit of the establishment of the national credential of  Registered Veterinary Nurse by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) 

Understanding the Michigan Association of Veterinary Technician’s
Position on NAVTA’s Registered Veterinary Nurse Initiative
Mallory White, LVT, VTS(ECC)
Past Vice President MAVT, 2016-2018
Oakland Veterinary Referral Services
Bloomfield Hills, MI

Our members are incredibly important to us and the Michigan Association of Veterinary Technicians is fully aware that there are mixed feelings among our membership about the RVN Initiative. Let me start from the beginning so that our members can understand what brought the MAVT to publicly share our position statement in favor of the RVN Initiative.

As many of you are already aware, NAVTA has spent the past couple of years compiling and gathering data and professional input from a multitude of sources such as professional veterinary organizations, state and national level veterinary associations (such as the MAVT), attorneys and legislatures. With this information, NAVTA developed the Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) Initiative in an effort to create a more unified and standard credential for our place in veterinary medicine. Because title (LVT, CVT, RVT) and governance varies from state to state, the goal of the RVN Initiative is to “create an alignment within the veterinary field, provide education for veterinarians, paraprofessionals, and consumers to elevate the understanding of roles and responsibilities as they relate to patient care by veterinary technicians/nurses.”

To be perfectly clear, NAVTA and MAVT, are two very separate professional associations. The MAVT does not work with NAVTA as part of the RVN coalition. NAVTA has chosen a few target states to begin the introduction and forward motion of the title change to RVN, Michigan being one of those states. Our state was among those chosen for a lengthy number of reasons including the lack of "nurse" title protection, number of LVTs in the state, the presence of an active Veterinary Technician association, among many others.

Over the past several months, the MAVT has been stewing over how to approach and share the RVN Initiative with our membership. We realized long ago that not all members would unanimously agree, as is the case in any significant change (professional, political, etc). To gain the feelings and opinions of our membership, a survey was emailed in September of last year. From this survey, we received 53 responses which had been emailed to a total of 268 registered members that we had at that point in time. This response rate of 20% was less than we were hoping for and not enough to reach the quorum requirement of 30%, as written in the MAVT's Standard Operating Procedures. Historically, having members come to open board meetings is uncommon (though the MAVT Executive Board is thrilled and excited to have our members participate in such meetings!). To meet the quorum requirement with an in person meeting, our only other opportunity to reach a suitable number of members was the Fall Conference, held in Grand Rapids in October of last year. The MAVT board strongly felt this would be an inappropriate time to poll our membership as only those whose schedules would allow them, and those financially able to attend the Fall Conference, would have the opportunity to voice their feelings. In such a situation, we were forced to rely on email to gather the most information from our members. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, even via email we were unable to get a response rate required for quorum.

The survey, however, was not a lost cause. It gave us an idea as to how our membership stood on the RVN Initiative. We realize that many LVTs (as had been personally shared with us) feel an emotional connection with the title of LVT. Many credentialed Veterinary Technicians (in Michigan as well as across the US) are also concerned about the lack of unification over time, meaning that the RVN change may ultimately happen in some states, but not all, leading to further lack of a standardized title. The last reason that (by percentage) revealed the most concern about the RVN Initiative was the feeling that the scope of practice for a Veterinary Technician far outreaches that of a human nurse. The MAVT realizes that we, as Veterinary Technicians may feel this way, though it's not clear if RNs and other credentialed human nurses across the US would agree. In fact, the definition of "nursing" as stated by the American Nurses Association reads:

"Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities; prevention of illness and injury; alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human responses; and advocacy in health care for individuals, families, communities, and populations."

If we were to replace "human" with "animal," I think we would all agree that the above definition still encompasses the goals and obligations of credentialed Veterinary Technicians.

Those mentioned above (as well as other factors and concerns brought to our attention) were taken into consideration as we proceeded to formulate a position statement. We want all of our members to trust that the bylaws were referenced to ensure that the position statement was made within the power of the current Executive Board. Since we did not reach quorum with our membership, the Executive Board followed the MAVT's SOP that require an 80% attendance rate of the Executive Board to decide the business of the MAVT. Not only did we meet these requirements, we exceeded them. All EB members were present and the decision to support the RVN Initiative was unanimous.

The MAVT Executive Board is well aware that significant legislative amendments are required for such a change as that proposed by NAVTA, as is a lengthy time commitment (NAVTA is estimating these changes to occur over the next 5-10 years). I want to make it completely clear to our members that the MAVT is in no way involved in the legislative aspect of the RVN Initiative. The legislative changes involved are under the complete direction of NAVTA and their coalition team.

Again, the MAVT Executive Board is well aware that there are members opposing the RVN Initiative. We did, however, make a position statement based on the feelings of the majority of our membership. In our survey back in September, 74% of our membership supports the standardization proposed by NAVTA. Many of you saw our Facebook post that initially shared the MAVT’s position statement and reacted to it. Of the 62 people (as of January 30th) that have reacted to the position statement, 84% approve of the position statement shared by the MAVT. We hope our membership can trust that we are truly trying to be a voice on behalf of our members and that the advancement and unification of our profession is of utmost importance.

I hope that I have provided some background information to you that can help you understand how and why the MAVT came to the place that we are now. If you have any further questions or concerns, please let us know! NAVTA also provides a great list of Frequently Asked Questions as well as other informative resources in regards to the RVN Initiative at: