A Vet Tech's Take on the Short History of Veterinary Technology

Vet tech Bonnie Loghry poses with a hawk during an outdoor teaching opportunity.

We take for granted that we'll have skilled veterinary technicians to take care of us at local animal hospitals, but if you've followed our coverage of National Veterinary Technician Week, you know that, not so long ago, this profession didn't exist. On her blog, Vet Techs in the 21st Century, Bonnie Loghry talks about the history of veterinary technology, and we asked her to share some of her research with Vetstreet readers.

The Tech

Bonnie Loghry is a registered veterinary technician with more than 30 years of experience; she also recently got her bachelor's degree in veterinary technology, and is currently investigating a master's degree. Her main focus is on the importance of veterinary medicine within the field of public health. She works as an educator in a vet tech program near her home in northern California, and also does some international work, which is where that public health focus comes into play.

"In 2008, I did my first international veterinary trip to Haiti to work with a group training veterinary agents in that country," she says. "This past summer, I was back in Haiti, working on a project sponsored by USAID. It was veterinary-based, but when you're dealing with developing nations, everything is public health. When you rely on a donkey to get to fresh water, your whole family goes down if that donkey goes down."

Loghry is equally passionate about education in her own country and "loves [her] students to distraction," which is why she started a blog. "If you teach, you've got to get the material across; you don't have a lot of extra time in the classroom," she says. "There were so many facets of veterinary technology I wasn't finding enough time to get across, and one of them was the history of our profession . . . The students don't always understand how young a profession we are, and how far we've come."

Loghry's Recap of Vet Tech History

Pulling from a variety of sources, including The Dynamic History of Veterinary Technology and Nursing, Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians, 6th Edition, as well as navta.net, Loghry offers a brief history of veterinary technology, with several major events listed:

  • In 1908, the Canine Nurses Institute made the first organized effort to train veterinary assistants in England.
  • Fifty-two years later, the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) instituted certification for three different levels of animal technicians working at research institutions.
  • In the 1960s, the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the US Army, Ralston Purina, and the State University of New York (SUNY) established training programs for animal technicians.
  • In 1967, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) began the process of establishing criteria for acceptable animal technician training programs.
  • In 1972, the first accreditation procedures for animal technician programs were instituted under a standing committee of the American Veterinary Medical Association. However, the AVMA determined that using the word "veterinary" alongside "technician" or "assistant" would be confusing. It wasn't until 1989 that the AVMA officially adopted the term "veterinary technician."
  • In 1973, Michigan State University and Nebraska Technical colleges were the first animal technician educational programs to receive accreditation by the AVMA. According to the organization, there are currently 172 accredited veterinary technician education programs, with 21 offering four-year degrees and nine offering distance-learning options. Many private schools now offer veterinary technology education, which makes sense given that veterinary technology is one of the fastest growing professions in veterinary medicine.
  • In 1981, the North American Veterinary Technician Association was formed to represent all veterinary technicians. The name has since changed to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), an organization that works closely with AVMA to protect, support, and promote the profession of veterinary technology. It's also responsible for the development and accreditation of veterinary technician specialties.

To learn more about veterinary technicians, check out our coverage of National Veterinary Technician Week, as well as the Facebook page of our sister publication, Veterinary Technician.

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