By Gale Martin and Kathy Koar
Day in and day out, students and graduates of Harcum College’s Veterinary Nursing program combine the art of caring for animal patients with the science and technology required to succeed in the profession.
Propelled by a 2017 goal called the “Veterinary Nursing Initiative,” NAVTA (the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America) committed to uniting the profession under a single credential.
In support of the VNI, Harcum officially changed the name of its program from Vet Tech to Vet Nursing in 2019 to better reflect the level and quality of training students receive in the program.
What specifically will the VNI accomplish? It will standardize the following:
- credentialing requirements
- the scope of practice or, in layman’s terms, the services that a veterinary nurse is competent to perform and permitted to undertake – in keeping with the terms of their professional license
- the continuing education requirements to retain their licensure
- a clarification of the veterinary nurse’s role for the general public by uniting the veterinary technician (vet tech) profession across the state, and ultimately nationally, under the new title of Registered Veterinary Nurse
In support of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Nursing Initiative (VNI), Harcum hosted a first-ever information session on Saturday, Nov. 16. More than 70 veterinary professionals attended. The day-long event at Harcum’s Bryn Mawr campus featured presentations in the morning that focused on the overall goals, educational benefits, and legal specifics of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, and a PVMA (Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association) led panel discussion in the afternoon.
The overall message was that supporting the Veterinary Nursing Initiative will help veterinary nurses receive more recognition and career opportunities, while increasing public awareness that veterinary nurses regularly advocate for patients, support clients, and provide critical and life-saving care to improve the health and lives of large and small animals. Veterinary Nursing Program Director Kathy Koar, M.Ed., CVT, organized and spoke at the event.
“Veterinary technician training has changed significantly over the last 40 years,” Koar said. A certified veterinary technician and Harcum Vet Nursing program alumna herself, Koar noted that the term “vet tech” doesn’t best describe what students are learning today, that the term “vet nurse” better characterizes the profession.
Harcum has built two valuable practicums into its Veterinary Nursing curriculum in partnership with PennVet at the Ryan Veterinary Hospital and the New Bolton Center for large animals. As a result of these high-impact experiences, hundreds of Harcum grads not only work in veterinary practices around the region but have advanced to practice managers, ICU nurses, surgery supervisors, anesthesia nursing managers, directors of veterinary nursing, and numerous other leadership roles within the profession.
More than half of U.S. households now own pets, and today’s owners have high expectations for the highest quality healthcare for their animals. These are two reasons contributing to the increasing demand for veterinary nurses, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will grow 19 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for other occupations.
Veterinary nurses are indispensable to veterinary practices, and the title veterinary nurse properly conveys their importance as members of the veterinary patient care team.
Harcum is currently accepting applications for the Veterinary Nursing program. Classes begin Jan. 13. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-526-6050.
Gale Martin is the Director of Communications and Marketing at Harcum College. Kathy Koar, a member of Harcum’s Class of 1999, is the Program Director for Veterinary Nursing.