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The evolution of a technician: From lab assistant to high-level specialist


A history of the veterinary technician role reflects changes in views and values.Bowman ReportOctober 2021
The evolution of a technician: From lab assistant to high-level specialist
  • 1960

    The American Association of Laboratory Animal Science establishes the role of "animal technician," creating a certification process for on-the-job-trained employees working with animals in research institutions.

  • 1961

    The first animal technician education program is established at the State University of New York in Delhi, New York.

  • 1972

    The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) House of Delegates votes to accredit training programs for animal technicians.

  • 1973

    Michigan State University and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture are the first animal technician educational programs to be accredited by the AVMA.

  • 1976

    The first professional journal for the field is published: The Journal for Animal Health Technicians.

    New York state passes the first law requiring licensing of animal health technicians.

  • 1981

    The North American Veterinary Technician Association (NAVTA) is formed.

  • 1986

    The first Animal Technician National Exam (now called the Veterinary Technician National Exam or VTNE) is given in Maine.

  • 1989

    The AVMA House of Delegates approves the term "veterinary technician," which it had previously voted down numerous times.

  • 1993

    NAVTA declares the third week in October to be National Veterinary Technician Week.

  • 1994

    NAVTA forms the Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties to oversee the development of specialty certification.

  • 1996

    The first Veterinary Technician Specialty Academy is recognized: Emergency and Critical Care.

  • 1999

    The AVMA incorporates language into the model practice act describing the roles of the veterinary technician and veterinary assistant.

  • 2002

    The North American Veterinary Technician Association changes its name to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America after Canada establishes its own association.

  • 2016

    NAVTA launches the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, seeking standardization of titles, education and training requirements, and scope of practice across U.S. states.

  • 2021

    Legislative efforts seek to require licensure in the 10 states that do not have minimum education criteria or define a scope of practice for veterinary technicians.

Sources include NAVTA, AVMA, and Washington State Association of Veterinary Technicians.

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