The item in this week’s newsletter from Arkansas discussing Certified Veterinary Technician Specialists (VTS) merits attention. A bill has been introduced in the Arkansas legislature to give certified VTS’s the authority to prescribe certain drugs and to perform minor surgical procedures, similar to the scope of authority granted to nurse practitioners in human medicine. It would require that the certified VTS would work for and under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, and the supervising veterinarian would be required to personally see the treated animal within 15 days after the VTS has administered care.
The effort to educate veterinary technicians to a higher level and to allow them to become certified in areas of specialties has been ongoing for at least 20 years. However, a successful legislative effort to empower technicians to expand their scope of practice and responsibility could substantially change the dynamic between veterinarians and certified VTS’s.
The shortage of veterinarians in rural areas has left Arkansas with the lowest ratio of veterinarians per capita at 14 veterinarians per 100,000 population. Passage of this bill could result in critical relief to farmers and their animals as well as expand the availability of care for pets in places where veterinary care remains difficult to deliver. Of course, it is to be expected that some veterinarians might see this effort as competition for the traditional veterinary practice. And, as quoted in a recent article published in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dr. Everett Rogers, president of the Arkansas VMA, said that there are currently no certified VTS’s in the state of Arkansas. Any impact on accessibility of care would appear to be on a fairly long timeline. We’ll keep you posted on this topic as there is more news to report.