The Business of Practice: Using Equine Vet Techs Fully

Veterinarians need to better utilize the skills of their vet techs and assistants and need to compensate them for those skills.
horse veterinarian vet tech
A partnership between an equine veterinarian and a vet tech can improve quality of life and the bottom line of a practice.

Veterinarians today are in short supply with increasing demand for services and fewer young veterinarians entering the industry. In this episode of The Business of Practice podcast, Deb Reeder, RVT, VTS-EVN, talks about Using Equine Vet Techs Fully to help your practice be more successful.

Reeder is the executive director of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants (AAEVT). She has been a registered vet tech since 1983, got her veterinary technician specialist (VTS) in equine veterinary nursing in 2009, and she has worked with referral practice and practice management as well as state veterinary boards on industry regulations.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Importance of credentialed vet tech to vet
  • Examples of what vet tech is trained to do
  • What is the difference in a registered veterinary technician (RVT), a licensed veterinary technician (LVT) and a veterinary technician specialist (VTS)?
  • Levels of supervision by vet
  • State Practice Acts
  • It has been shown over and over in studies that employing and properly utilizing a VT can increase your income
  • Why are vet techs leaving the equine veterinary field?
  • Why are they so hard to find to hire
  • Job posting tips for finding a tech

Reeder noted that veterinarians need to be very familiar with their state practice acts, because only that can tell them what they legally can allow a registered vet tech or a veterinary assistant to do under their veterinary license.

She noted that registered vet techs have invested time and money to get a license, and they have to maintain that license with continuing education (just like a veterinarian).

Reeder also noted that states have various “names” for licensed vet techs and assistants, and again, it is up to the veterinarian to ensure they are following the state practice act in using technicians and assistants.

Some states allow licensed technicians to do specific tasks without being there “in person” to supervise. Other states have tasks that licensed technicians can do only if the veterinarian is present. Still other states allow veterinarians to oversee non-licensed technicians to perform some tasks and not others.

Yes, it is confusing. But it is worth a veterinarian’s time to learn what the practice acts say in the state(s) where the veterinarian is licensed. That will allow them to make full use of the expertise of the licensed technicians and veterinary assistants they employ. Which means they can be more efficient and profitable each day.

Keep in mind that in no states are technicians (or assistants) allowed to diagnose or prescribe treatments. They also can’t perform surgery.

Make the Most of Techs and Assistants

Veterinarians need to recognize that most state practice acts are driven by the small animal sector. If those practice acts are not suitable for equine practice in your state, work with your regulators to change the rules.

In many states licensed vet techs can perform diagnostic imaging, administer medications and treatment (IM, IV and sub Q), apply bandages and splits, and administer anesthesia.

Reeder noted that a lot of veterinary assistants have skills that come from experience. While in some states only a licensed vet tech can put in an IV catheter, in other states skilled vet assistants are legally able to do that task.

“Techs and assistants are another set of eyes, ears and hands … they are your partner,” said Reeder. “Having a tech can change and increase a veterinarian’s workflow.”

That might mean the technician/assistant getting more information from the client while the veterinarian is addressing the patient or updating a client on a horse’s condition.

“In small animal practice you have technician appointments,” said Reeder. “That might be telecare, imaging or bandage changes. That can help your income.

“Vet techs want to increase the growth of the practice,” she added.

She said vet techs or assistants can check invoices so you don’t miss charges, can do fecals or even take digital radiography.

Reeder noted that veterinarians not only need to utilize the skills of their vet techs and assistants, but need to compensate them for their skills. She also encouraged veterinarians to talk to their techs, assistants and other staff as they are engaged in making the practice successful and might have ideas that can improve the bottom line of the business.

Disclaimer: This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other medical providers with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, (collectively, “Synchrony”) makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in the article are the sole opinions of the author. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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