Veterinary technicians across the United Kingdom this week were brought under a single regulatory body and compelled to obey the same code of professional conduct.
A new Royal Charter that went into effect Tuesday requires technicians to register with and be regulated by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). They also are subject to the college’s disciplinary system when serious professional misconduct occurs.
John Blackwell, BVSc, MRCVS, the president of the British Veterinary Association, called the change a “landmark occasion” because it “sees the entire veterinary surgeon and nursing professions regulated for the first time.”
“All veterinary surgeons know that the work we do is reliant on the veterinary team and the key role that the expertise and professionalism of veterinary nurses play within that team,” Dr. Blackwell said.
The United States does not have nationwide regulations for veterinary technicians. All 50 states maintain separate guidelines under which technicians work, starting with licensing requirements in most places.
Julie Legred, CVT, the executive director of the National Association for Veterinary Technicians in America, doesn’t expect the British model to be copied anytime soon.
“We’ve been trying to work towards that for a long time,” Legred said. “Giving a national credential is something that all technicians have wanted and needed.
“While the doctors all call themselves DVMs—with the exception of VMDs at the University of Pennsylvania—technicians are CVTs, RVTs, LVTs, LAHTs,” she said. “They have many different titles for us. Until we can have support at a higher level, I don’t know if this will ever become a reality to have a national credential.”
The changes in the United Kingdom—made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—required exhaustive collaboration, said Fiona Andrew, RVN, president of the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA).
“Successive councils of the BVNA have worked tirelessly over the years to have veterinary nursing recognized as a profession, and it is a delightful coincidence that that recognition comes in the 50th year of our association,” Andrew said.
Andrew’s RVN title stands for registered veterinary nurse, which all technicians covered by the Royal Charter will be able to use.
The charter also mandates that each technician complete at least 45 hours of continuing education over a three-year period.
RCVS registrar Gordon Hockey said the organization “worked very hard to get to this point.”
“This charter clarifies the role of the college and its aims and objectives while also modernizing many of our regulatory functions,” Hockey said. “This represents another significant step towards the college becoming a first-rate regulator.
“Critically, this charter fulfills one of our long-term ambitions to create a coherent regulatory system for veterinary nurses and to recognize them as true professionals, dedicated to their vocation, their development and proper conduct.”