Changes to Veterinary Technician National Exam Include New Eligibility Rules and Limited Test Admini

Veterinary assistants who have not graduated from an AVMA-accredited technician program and live in states that do not regulate technicians in practice acts are no longer eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). And starting in January 2007, the VTNE, which is given twice a year, will only be administered by regulatory boards (in states where technicians are regulated by practice acts) or by Professional Examination Service (PES), an independent test vendor that owned the test prior to the American Association of State Boards (AAVSB). In the past, several groups including VMAs and technician groups have administered the exam.

The change in VTNE eligibility has upset technicians and some technician association representatives are concerned about the financial loss related to administering the test.

Veterinary assistants who live and work in states where practice acts allow on-the-job training as an educational equivalent to degrees are not affected by the eligibility change, said Charlotte Ronan, AAVSB executive director.

Sliding in under the proverbial wire, a record numbers of technicians sat for the VTNE last month. About 200 candidates in Massachusetts took the exam, twice the regular number, according to Christy Boris, corresponding secretary for the Massachusetts Veterinary Technician Association.

“We’re really upset about the change,” she said. “We thought we had until 2010.”

Massachusetts is one of at least 15 states in the U.S. that does not regulate technicians.

In Colorado, another state that does not regulate technicians, the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians has given the test to graduates of AVMA-certified programs for several years. Denise Mikita, CVT, CACVT administrator, said that taking the test away from the association would amount to an unexpected financial hardship.

“We are definitely not in favor of losing the test,” Mikita said. “We are still a business, and we feel that it’s a fair fee to offer the service to graduates.”


Future Benefits?

Some industry professionals believe that the number of states that do not regulate technicians in their practice acts will dwindle as a result of the VTNE eligibility change. And that change– they say – will raise professionalism within the industry.

Mikita disagrees. “The bottom line is why are we fixing something if it’s not broken? And in the state of Colorado it’s not broken. We have one of the most advanced certification programs in the nation.”

The eligibility change was announced by the AAVSB last October; three months after the association purchased the test from PES. A press release was sent to associations and colleges but Ronan acknowledged that several technicians were caught off guard by the June deadline. She explained that the change was made “in order to approve people to sit for the exam. We had to have some criteria for eligibility.”

Consultants contacted by the AAVSB believe that veterinarians will feel more comfortable delegating important tasks to technicians if the level of training required for technician certification is more consistent across the nation, Ronan said.

Future changes to the exam will include a revision to the questions, which may appear in 2008, and the AAVSB is currently seeking volunteers to participate in a job analysis project. At press time, the AAVSB had 400 volunteers listed to take a job description survey but Ronan hopes to have at least 50 people from each state. “We want to know what technicians really do and where they learned how to do it,” she explained.

Information about the Veterinary Technician Job Analysis Project, which began in May and will culminate with the analysis of surveys that will be sent in the fall, is available on the AAVSB website. An “item writing” workshop, which tackled exam questions, was held in May, Ronan said.