A Border-Free Technician Education Accreditation for Canada, United States May Improve Tenure, Mobil

In a move that essentially erases geographical boundaries for accredited technician programs between the United States and Canada, the AVMA voted in June 2006 to acknowledge Canadian accreditation rules. The effort to streamline requirements was initiated 15 years ago by Canadian animal technologists, who wanted access to specialty groups and four-year programs in the United States.

“This is a great move for Canadian animal health technologists (AHT) [and] RVTs,” said Sandy Hass, RVT, executive director of the Canadian Association of Animal Health Technologists and Technicians. Hass believes the vote will help technicians lobby veterinary licensing boards for full acceptance.

Lucille Landals, AHT, appreciated cooperation from the Canadian VMA, a group that got involved in the technician effort about five years ago. “It has been very satisfying to be part of the successful cooperation and teamwork between technicians and veterinarians,” Landals said. “I really truly feel like one of the veterinary team members.”

The vote enables technicians to transfer continuing education and practical experience gained at clinics between the two countries, which may create new opportunities for specialization.

“Labor mobility will be much easier now on both sides of the border,” said Landals, who explained that some Canadian technologists are interested in obtaining specialty training that is available in the United States but want to practice in Canada. Prior to the vote, a specialty designation earned across the border was not transferable.

Currently, a dental specialty is offered in Canada and listed on the Canadian Animal Health Technologists website, which lists US-based specialty technician groups.

In addition to educational opportunities, Landals believes the vote will extend tenure because it enables Canadian technologists to enhance their skill sets.

There are 125 AVMA-accredited technician programs in the United States, five distance-learning programs like the Cedar Valley College/AAHA Distance Education Veterinary Technology Education Program, and 16 locations that offer four-year degrees. The AVMA’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities reviews applications, and will soon vote on 18 schools that have applied for approval.

In Canada, there are no four-year programs for technicians though there 12 CVMA-approved two- and three-year programs. Depending on the province, program graduates are designated as AHTs, RVTs, and registered animal health technologists.