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Stop using a non-existent title

I am writing to ask you to please stop using a title that does not exist in North America to refer to credentialed veterinary staff. In your magazine, the terms “nurse,” “tech” and “assistant” are used with no clear delineation of which staff member the author is referring to, sometimes calling all support staff in a facility “the techs.” This simply adds to the confusion in our profession around title protection, appropriate title use and utilization of credentialed staff members.

Yes, there are four titles currently in use in the United States. Yes, the Veterinary Nurse Initiative is working to unify under one title, “registered veterinary nurse.” However, to date, the VNI has not been successful in changing the title of any credentialed technician in the U.S. despite efforts in four states. Appropriating the title “nurse” is a violation of nursing practice acts in 39 states. As a U.S.-based publication, you should uphold current law and current title use.

If your authors don’t wish to specify whether they are referring to a certified, licensed, or registered veterinary technician, the term credentialed veterinary technician gets the point across. Using the blanket term “techs” is unacceptable and, frankly, offensive, and contributes to the perception among staff that all support staff are the same.

Liz Hughston is co-chair of the Academy of Internal Medicine Veterinary Technicians’ credentialing committee, president of National Veterinary Professionals Union and co-founder of the Veterinary Cannabis Academy.


Liz Hughston’s Viewpoint was shared with the Today’s Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. Board member Mark Cushing, legislative consultant to the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, responded:

“Liz is misguided and unfortunately repeating a trope from the American Nursing Association. Nurses do not ‘own’ the name ‘nurse’ any more than any of the 10-plus health care professions using ‘doctor’ own the title ‘doctor.’

“The law is simple and, delightfully, clear. The nurses are licensed under nursing practice acts governed by a state nursing board. The scope of nursing practice acts extends to human health nursing. Period. It does not cross the borders to animal health and veterinary medicine. Any more than the 10 separate health licensing acts governing various doctors extend to animal health.

“Only licensed nurses may practice nursing in human health, but nurse boards and nurse practice acts have no authority over the people who perform veterinary medical care services.

“Today’s Veterinary Business is well within its rights.”