In May 2022, the Veterinary Board of Governors (VBOG) voted to endorse a proposed apprenticeship program as a pathway to become Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVTs). The proposal was brought forward by Cascade Veterinary Clinics (a single three-hospital entity) in central Washington and the North Central Workforce Development Council as an answer to the shortage of LVTs. In October, the Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries (L&I) gave the program provisional approval for one year, a necessary step before permanent approval.
VBOG’s vote and L&I’s provisional approval concluded a nearly three-year process of stakeholder engagement across the profession – engagement by many organizations and individuals that were fully in opposition to starting such a program. The WSVMA, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Washington State Association of Veterinary Technicians (WSAVT) and the National Association of Veterinary technicians in America (NAVTA) all OPPOSE the program.
Currently, VBOG is in the process of a separate rulemaking, distinct from L&I’s approval of the proposed apprenticeship program, to finalize the apprenticeship as a pathway to veterinary technician licensure. The VBOG is asking for comments from the public. The WSVMA, WSAVT, AVMA and NAVTA have formed a coalition and have taken steps to try and prevent the program from moving forward, including appealing L&I’s approval.
Reasons why this program should not move forward:
The program is not AVMA-accredited
- AVMA accreditation guarantees a rigorous didactic education as well as mastering over 300 essential skills so graduates are fully capable of performing across a wide variety of professional roles across all sectors of veterinary medicine. This is accomplished through oversight by veterinary experts from outside the educational program, an established curriculum, and through ensuring the most up-to-date advances in veterinary medicine are taught to students. LVTs do not work in a trade. They are highly trained medical paraprofessionals. Apprenticeships neutralize the advances made in technician education and credentialing.
- Only three remaining states allow for an alternate pathway to licensure for veterinary technicians and efforts are underway to close those available routes due to the potential harm created by a lack of standardized veterinary technician credentialing.
An apprenticeship program will not alleviate the shortage
- The shortage is not a lack of people entering the field, but rather a lack of retaining those that do. The primary solution to the veterinary technician shortage lies in veterinarians hiring and leveraging their LVTs as trusted team members to increase the quality, consistency and completeness of care and then compensating them appropriately.
- Furthermore, there are five AVMA-accredited campus-based training programs in Washington along with several online training programs that have enough capacity to accommodate interested students. Cascade Veterinary Clinic’s proposal states the program will take three years and there will be one journeyman to one apprentice, which is an inefficient way to increase the number of qualified team members.
Veterinary technicians are against this program
- NAVTA, WSAVT and other state technician associations have made considerable advances to elevate the status of veterinary technicians – a predominantly female workforce – in order to advance the veterinary profession and to protect animal and public health. The apprenticeship program is not only a step back in time, but it counteracts their hard work to advance and does little to improve the quality of care. Elevating the status of technicians through standardized AVMA-accredited education, paying adequate wages, and leveraging their skills will do more to bring individuals in to the profession and, ultimately, to keep them.
Call to Action
We need your voice to make sure a rigorous AVMA-accredited education remains the standard for veterinary technician licensure.
Please take 30 seconds to tell members of the Veterinary Board of Governors:
- Apprenticeship training does not equate to the standard of training for licensed veterinary technicians.
- Apprenticeships are a consequential step backwards in our efforts to recognize and standardize Licensed Veterinary Technicians.
- Apprenticeships will not solve the current shortage of Licensed Veterinary Technicians.
- Approving apprenticeships goes against the advice and expertise of countless veterinary organizations and individuals who are working to uphold the integrity of the Licensed Veterinary Technician profession.
Send your comments opposing the apprenticeship program NO LATER THAN FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2023 to Loralei Walker at [email protected] or call (360) 236-4947.
Questions regarding WSVMA’s position can be directed to Candace Joy at [email protected].