Friday, December 31, 2010

It's a Brand New Day

Veterinary technology, as a profession, is growing rapidly and there have been some remarkable strides made in a relatively short period of time. Yet I still hear some of the same old, tired complaints about being overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated, etc. I am not saying that there aren't some unpleasant working situations out there but don't you think other professionals feel the same way from time to time? Enough already!

Complaints without action are useless. Are you part of the solution or adding to the problem? Do you keep yourself informed? Sometimes what you perceive as a problem is much more a result of not knowing the whole story. What sort of maturity level do we demonstrate to our colleagues when we do not invest the effort to continue with our own academic or professional education? This brings me to the subject of this blog: titles and professional identity.

There is quite the discussion in our industry about titles. Who should be called what, why and when. Folks, in case you haven't been paying attention the discussion is over. We have veterinary assistants, veterinary technicians and veterinarians. We are not nurses; this is a protected title restricted to the human medical profession. So...if you are a veterinary assistant you should be proud of your contribution to the health care team. Please do not pretend to be a technician but, instead, find your niche within your practice setting and excel!

If you are a credentialed technician then you should be proud of your license--you worked hard for it. You know a lot but you are not a junior veterinarian so be cognizant of the limits of your license. Choose to be a leader and mentor within your practice and remember to appreciate the veterinary assistants who make your life easier each and every day. And both technicians and assistants need to pay a lot more respect to the intense amount of work and financial burden required to become a veterinarian. Ultimately the responsibility for all that happens in the clinic rests on their them!

If you are a veterinarian reading this then, please, make sure you are up-to-date on what your practice act states regarding permissible tasks for assistants and technicians. It isn't cool to look the other way no matter how much confidence you have in your staff. We are, all of us, on the same team and our clients depend upon us to work together.

We must, regardless of where we fit within the veterinary health care team, learn to proudly articulate what it is that we contribute to our profession and to the communities within which we work. We must demonstrate the maturity of those who know who they are, what they can do and where they fit within the big picture.

In California this just got a little easier. Effective January 1, 2011, the title of veterinary technician will be the title of nurse has been for years. AB1980 states, among other things, that any person is prohibited from using the title "registered veterinary technician" or "veterinary technician" or any other "words, letters, or symbols" with the intent to represent that person as authorized to act as a registered veterinary technician, having met specific requirements established by California state law. Additionally, this new law places a credentialed veterinary technician on the veterinary medical board, making California the 17th state to have an RVT serving in a regulatory capacity.

This is such a huge step forward for the veterinary profession. The legislation to which I have referred did not just appear out of nowhere; it certainly did not make it through the legislative process without the hard work of technicians and veterinarians who cared enough to get involved. Change does not happen in a vacuum. Those who see a need and then do the work will be the ones who determine the future you find yourself in. At the dawn of this new year, will you make a commitment to yourself and to your profession? Imagine a better tomorrow and then get to work on it today.

May 2011 bring all those who work in veterinary medicine the great joy and fulfillment that this career promises. Happy New Year!