Changing the title of veterinary technician to veterinary nurse would undermine title protections and the “practice of nursing” that have been secured through Ohio’s state statute. 

The Ohio Nurses Association testified in opposition of House Bill 501 of the 132nd General Assembly- a bill aimed to change the title of registered veterinary technician to registered veterinary nurse.
ONA feels so strongly regarding title protections that we have drafted language we hope to introduce as an amendment to the state budget that will reserve the title “nurse” for individuals engaging in human care.

The following is the letter submitted from Brian Burger, President, Ohio Nurses Association, to the Ohio House of Representatives.

 

March 11, 2019

 

Ohio House of Representatives

77 South High Street

Columbus, OH 43215

 

Re: Change title of veterinary technician to veterinary nurse

 

Dear Members of the Ohio House of Representatives:

The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) has been engaged with the Veterinary Nurse Initiative coalition through the American Nurses Association (ANA) to garner a better understanding of the desire to standardize and increase the education and training of Veterinary Technicians under a single credential.  Additionally, a member of the Coalition spoke to us, as well as 34 other state nursing association representatives at an ANA sponsored meeting in September of 2017.  While we commend the North American Veterinary Technician Association’s (NAVTA) desire to standardize Technicians, we do not support the use of the title “nurse” for this role, nor do we support the designation of a Veterinary Nurse in the Revised Code.  We testified in opposition of House Bill 501 of the 132nd General Assembly- a bill aimed to change the title of registered veterinary technician to registered veterinary nurse.  The bill was unsuccessful at passing through the Senate during Lame Duck, however, we are aware that they bill will be introduced soon and we continue to stand in strong opposition.

The title “nurse” has always been linked to the care of humans—And prior to 1903, anyone could call themselves a nurse and practice nursing in the United States.  Moreover, nurses in Ohio formed ONA in 1904 so we would have a powerful platform for the protection, promotion and advancement of our profession, beginning with Ohio’s Nurse Practice Act.  For over one-hundred years, nurses have fought to establish standards of practice and licensure.  Through these regulatory efforts, the nursing profession has protected the public and nurses’ credibility.  Furthermore, licensure through state statutes limit the use of the title “registered nurse” and “licensed practical nurse”.  Specifically, in the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4723.1:

(A) “Registered nurse” means an individual who holds a current, valid license issued under this chapter that authorizes the practice of nursing as a registered nurse.

Furthermore, immediately after defining the term “registered nurse”, the Ohio Revised Code states:

(B) “Practice of nursing as a registered nurse” means providing to individuals and groups nursing care requiring specialized knowledge, judgment, and skill derived from the principles of biological, physical, behavioral, social, and nursing sciences. Such nursing care includes:

(1) Identifying patterns of human responses to actual or potential health problems amenable to a nursing regimen;

(2) Executing a nursing regimen through the selection, performance, management, and evaluation of nursing actions;

(3) Assessing health status for the purpose of providing nursing care;

(4) Providing health counseling and health teaching;

(5) Administering medications, treatments, and executing regimens authorized by an individual who is authorized to practice in this state and is acting within the course of the individual’s professional practice;

(6) Teaching, administering, supervising, delegating, and evaluating nursing practice.

Additionally, 4723.03 of the Revised Code discusses unlicensed practice:

  • No person shall engage in the practice of nursing as a registered nurse, represent the person as being a registered nurse, or use the title “registered nurse,” the initials “R.N.,” or any other title implying that the person is a registered nurse, for a fee, salary, or other consideration, or as a volunteer, without holding a current, valid license as a registered nurse under this chapter.

(D) No person shall engage in the practice of nursing as a licensed practical nurse, represent the person as being a licensed practical nurse, or use the title “licensed practical nurse,” the initials “L.P.N.,” or any other title implying that the person is a licensed practical nurse, for a fee, salary, or other consideration, or as a volunteer, without holding a current, valid license as a practical nurse under this chapter.

(E) No person shall use the titles or initials “graduate nurse,” “G.N.,” “professional nurse,” “P.N.,” “graduate practical nurse,” “G.P.N.,” “practical nurse,” “P.N.,” “trained nurse,” “T.N.,” or any other statement, title, or initials that would imply or represent to the public that the person is authorized to practice nursing in this state, except as follows:

(1) A person licensed under this chapter to practice nursing as a registered nurse may use that title and the initials “R.N.”;

(2) A person licensed under this chapter to practice nursing as a licensed practical nurse may use that title and the initials “L.P.N.”

Our association believes that the definitions explicitly defined in ORC 4723 protect the practice of nursing, much like language in ORC 4741 protect the practice of veterinary medicine and its branches like registered veterinary technicians.  Changing the title of veterinary technician to veterinary nurse would undermine title protections and the “practice of nursing” that have been secured through Ohio’s state statute.  We strongly believe that NAVTA should seek national standardized credentials using Ohio’s registered veterinary technician language as a model for other states who need updating without changing their title.  From ONA’s perspective, it would appear that credential standardization using the title registered veterinary technician would expedite this change, rather than attempting to change all 50 state statutes.  Justifiably so, the Tennessee legislature feels the same.  Just last week the Tennessee Senate Agriculture Committee voted to take NAVTA’s model “veterinary nurse” bill off notice, which essentially killed the bill in their current legislative session.

We can certainly sympathize with the veterinary technicians and commend any attempt to raise education and practice standards, however this national initiative will continue to run into road blocks where the title “nurse”, “registered nurse” and “nursing” are protected under various state statutes.  Moreover, we believe that trying to change 50 state statutes does not solve the overarching problem of public awareness, as stated in NAVTA’s proponent testimony during the last General Assembly.  It is ONA’s belief that perhaps NAVTA should focus their efforts toward a public education and awareness campaign and focus their time on states who are identified as needing updates to educational standards and credentialing.

ONA feels so strongly regarding title protections that we have drafted language we hope to introduce as an amendment to the state budget that will reserve the title “nurse” for individuals engaging in human care.

We appreciate the opportunity to weigh in on this important issue.

Brian J. Burger MSN, APRN, AGACNP-BC, CCRN

President, Ohio Nurses Association