NAVTA Initiates Veterinary Nurse Credential Change

The Veterinary Nurse Initiative Coalition will pursue legislative amendments throughout the country to establish the universal credential of registered veterinary nurse.
Maureen McKinney
Published: May 17, 2017
In its ongoing efforts to unite and advance the veterinary technician profession, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) Board of Directors has announced the formation of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative Coalition. This coalition was formed to pursue legislative amendments in all 50 states that will establish the universal credential of registered veterinary nurse (RVN) — replacing the current credentials registered veterinary technician (RVT), licensed veterinary technician (LVT), certified veterinary technician (CVT) and licensed veterinary medical technician (LVMT). The coalition also seeks to make credentialing requirements and scope of practice uniform across the country.

“Through the standardization and public awareness of the registered veterinary nurse credential, the entire profession will make significant strides toward better recognition, mobility and elevated practice standards,” said NAVTA president-elect Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition). “All of this will lead to better patient care and consumer protection.”

Veterinary technicians (at one time known as animal technicians and then animal health technicians) have witnessed many changes in the profession over the past 50 years. Today, credentialing requirements, titles and scope of practice vary depending on where you live. This can cause confusion for the pet-owning public and diminish the perceived value of the role technicians play in the veterinary hospital.

NAVTA believes that a single, unified title and a standardized credential throughout the nation is the next step in improving the level of patient care, aligning public perceptions and bringing clarity to the field of veterinary medicine. For credentialed veterinary technicians and veterinary technician specialists looking to advance their careers, the unified title will create a national and global standard.

Coalition member Kenichiro Yagi, MS, RVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM) explains that the process to evolve the name to veterinary nurse began last year with extensive research on the legality of the name change and the level of industry support, as well as a review of the current credentialing. Yagi also noted that the process could take several years because of the need to ensure alignment and support at the national and local level from a legislative, industry and individual perspective.

The Veterinary Nurse Initiative Coalition will work closely with the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Veterinary State Boards, other professional veterinary organizations, industry and legislators to create common terminology, practice acts, policies and procedures that aim to ease the burden on individual states and associations in governing credentials. The initiative will begin with a handful of states in 2018 and then work with any state interested in these reforms.

NAVTA believes that standardization with a title that is easily recognizable to the public aids in public awareness of the role of technicians. “Our goal is to reduce and remove the confusion associated with the [various] designations for a veterinary technician,” says coalition member Heather Prendergast, BS, RVT, CVPM, SPHR. “Once a single designation is established, each state will be able to align with a standardized credential for the profession.”

The term “veterinary technician” implies that an individual has mastered the science and technology involved with animal health, whereas “veterinary nurse” incorporates not only the science and technology aspect but also the art of caring for animal patients from a whole-picture perspective. Other veterinary technicians around the world are more commonly called veterinary nurses.

The feedback NAVTA has received from veterinary technicians has been largely positive. According to a NAVTA press release, “This is a significant change for the profession, [and] we have received a great deal of thoughtful and constructive feedback, all of which is helping us as we move forward.” Surveys of veterinarians also show favorable support for the title change and standardized credential.

To learn more about the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, email

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