Vital, licensed members of the veterinary health care team
You may be familiar with doctors of veterinary medicine (DVM)—most commonly called veterinarians—but have you heard about registered veterinary technicians (RVT)?
Numbering approximately 10,000 in California, RVTs are vital members of the veterinary health care team who are trained and licensed to provide a wide variety of services to animals in their care.
RVTs are skilled animal health care professionals who have completed an education program approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) or equivalent experience, and who have passed a national licensing examination. Only individuals with Board-issued RVT registrations can call themselves RVTs or veterinary technicians.
Under direct DVM supervision, an RVT may:
- Administer anesthesia.
- Suture skin and oral tissue.
- Extract teeth.
- Create a relief hole in the skin for placement of an intravascular catheter.
- Perform drug compounding from bulk substances.
Under indirect DVM supervision, an RVT may:
- Operate radiographic equipment.
- Administer medications.
- Apply a splint or cast.
- Perform drug compounding from non-bulk substances.
- Animal physical therapy.
Routine RVT duties include:
- Preparing animal patients and instruments for surgery.
- Assisting in and monitoring after surgery.
- Dental prophylaxis (teeth cleaning).
- Applying bandages.
- Inserting IV catheters.
- Drawing blood and urine samples.
- Running lab tests.
- Collecting and recording animal patient case histories.
An RVT may perform many other animal health care tasks under either direct or indirect DVM supervision consistent with standards of good veterinary medical practices. Direct supervision means the DVM is present and is quickly available where the animal health care task is being performed. Indirect supervision means the DVM is not present, but has given instructions for the animal’s care.
CHECK THE LICENSE
Like veterinarians, RVTs must conspicuously display their Board registration at the veterinary premises. DVMs and RVTs who provide services away from a hospital should carry the pocket version of their license/registration. Consumers may ask to see the license/registration before agreeing to any treatments—you can check license or registration status for DVMs and RVTs anytime with DCA’s online license search tool: https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Related Reading: Vets Aren’t Just for Pets