Penn Foster College Joins NAVTA on Changing term ‘Veterinary Technician’ to ‘Veterinary Nurse’

James Hurrell, DVM, Director of the Veterinary Academy at Penn Foster, believes the term will bring more respect to the often misunderstood profession.

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James Hurrell, DVM and Director of the Veterinary Academy at Penn Foster College, today endorsed the National Association of Veterinary Technicians' (NAVTA) initiative to elevate the status of the profession of “veterinary technician” to “veterinary nurse.” Dr. Hurrell declared that the new term will “bring more understanding and respect to the people that assist veterinarians with the healthcare of animals.” 

Dr. Hurrell announced his endorsement at the 2016 Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) in Las Vegas. 

“This proposed change to ‘veterinary nurse’ has been gaining momentum for a while, both for practical reasons within the field of veterinary medicine, and also for reasons of professional standing and recognition for individual practitioners,” Dr. Hurrell said in a press release.

Penn Foster’s Veterinary Academy director explained that the name change would bring more respect for a profession whose current title is hard to explain to the public, and forge greater understanding of the educational and professional achievements by those who will be called “veterinary nurse.”

Dr. James Hurrell

Penn Foster College

Dr. James Hurrell, DVM, Director of the Veterinary Academy at Penn Foster College.

In the field of veterinary medicine, depending on the state an individual works in, the term ‘veterinary technician’ can be used by anyone who has been trained on-the-job, even if he or she has not graduated from an accredited veterinary technician program, and/or not taken the national examination to become a Registered Veterinary Technician.

By changing the name of the profession to “veterinary nurse,” Dr. Hurrell expects:

  • The term “veterinary nurse” will only be allowed to be used by someone who has graduated from an accredited Veterinary Nursing program and passed the national examination to become a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN);
  • On-the-job trained veterinary assistants in veterinary practices will not be allowed to call themselves veterinary nurses; and 
  • The pet- and animal-owning public will recognize the term “nurse” and inherently better understand what the job duties entail.
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While NAVTA, Dr. Hurrell, and others in the veterinary industry believe this professional name change will take some time, they are heartened that some national publications have already taken initiative and have replaced the term “veterinary technician” with “veterinary nurse.”

For more information about Dr. Hurrell and Penn Foster, visit their website

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