Credentialed veterinary technicians are vital to your practice. How to keep them on your team.
Team member retention is one of the biggest challenges facing the veterinary profession, and no position has been more affected than that of the credentialed veterinary technician. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) 2022 Demographic Study found that almost one-third of credentialed techs were actively looking for new employment opportunities.
The response from the veterinary profession has been an attempt to retain credentialed veterinary technicians, focusing on increasing their utilization within practices and leveraging their skills and education. While important, this alone isn’t enough to create a sustainable career path for these valuable team members. Helping credentialed techs cultivate and sustain a professional identity is often over overlooked in the retention puzzle.
To help your technicians succeed, get started with this three-step approach:
1. Educate your clients. Your clients probably don’t realize just how competent and credentialed your techs are. A 2022 study by NAVC found that 47% of pet owners didn’t know that credentialed technicians are educated in delivering medical services and 63% failed to recognize that credentialed technicians are the equivalent of human healthcare nurses. Shockingly, many pet owners believe that the primary role of the credentialed technician involves feeding, pet grooming, and cleaning cages or urine/feces from floors.
2. Leverage your website. While many websites include a team member page, typically only the veterinarians have their credentials listed. Help support professional identity for all team members by including the applicable professional titles of your technicians (RVT, CVT, LVT, CVPM, VTS). Categorize the page by position and include a brief description for each category, including education, training and practice responsibilities.
Include titles anywhere the credentialed team member’s name appears, such as on name tags and business cards. Spell out the title for more impact:
– Ashley, Certified Veterinary Technician
– Sophie, Registered Veterinary Technician, Veterinary Technician Specialist
3. Define a clear role for credentialed techs. When every team member understands their role in the practice, efficiency increases. Protect the role of the credentialed tech by establishing clear boundaries that recognize technicians as professionals:
- Allow credentialed techs to work at the top of their license. Hospital leadership should be familiar with their state’s veterinary practice act and delegate all allowed professional activities to credentialed techs. Educate the entire team about the role that credentialed techs will be fulfilling in the practice; this will reduce confusion and gain team buy-in and support.
- Appropriately utilize credentialed techs. The best use of this talented team member’s time is not in examination rooms assisting veterinarians; that’s a great role for veterinary assistants. Credentialed technicians should be performing all services allowed by practice acts, such as vaccination and re-evaluation appointments, and technical skills such as venipuncture, catheter placement, bandaging and nursing care. They should be providing leadership and serving as a resource for the veterinary assistants that assist the credentialed techs during diagnostic procedures, anesthetic induction and in-patient care.
- Don’t ask credentialed techs to do menial, non-professional tasks. A credentialed tech’s professional identity is confused by workplace expectations that cause them to feel devalued, such as when employers make menial, non-professional tasks, like janitorial work, part of the job expectation. Instead, hire a professional cleaning service and treat your team like the healthcare professionals that they are.
Want to learn more? Check out the 2023 AAHA Technician Utilization Guidelines.