The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has started two new Working Parties which will look at the role and possible regulation of veterinary technicians, and environmental and sustainability issues, respectively.
The Veterinary Technicians’ Working Party, which will report to the recently formed Registration Committee, has been formed in response to recent approaches from farm animal veterinary practices and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, about the possibility of formal recognition and regulation by the RCVS of veterinary technicians as a defined role within the vet-led team. ‘Veterinary technician’ is a title often used for members of the vet-led team who carry out a number of animal health and welfare-related tasks in a farm animal context. While in the United States and elsewhere the ‘vet tech’ title is similar to that of veterinary nurses in the UK, veterinary technician is considered to be a distinct role in the UK with a different remit and separate set of skills and competencies.
The Working Party will include representatives from the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA), as well as members of RCVS and VN Councils, and will be considering a number of issues related to veterinary technicians. This includes: agreeing a definition of the role of a veterinary technician and its scope; agreeing day one skills and competences for the role; creating a system for assessing current vet tech courses and qualifications and coming up with a set of educational standards; and agreeing a Code of Professional Conduct and a concerns investigation and disciplinary system. Any recommendations made by the Working Party will be referred to RCVS Council for consideration.
Linda Ford, a lay member of RCVS Council who will be chairing the Working Party, said: “The aim of the Working Party will be to more clearly define the role of veterinary technician, and it how fits alongside the established role of veterinary nursing and within the vet-led team. The group will review the current set-up for veterinary technician courses and qualifications, with a view to incorporating them as a defined veterinary profession and associates of the RCVS within time.”
Matthew Rendle, Chair of RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council, added: “In the context of the UK the role of the veterinary technician is a relatively recent one, and because of the nature of the role in other countries, such as the US, it might cause a bit of confusion as to how it relates to veterinary nursing.
“However, I just wanted to reassure my fellow veterinary nurses that it is a very distinct role, primarily in the farm/ production animal sector and that any recognition for the role doesn’t diminish veterinary nursing or mean that we can’t still carry out all the tasks we currently do. I look forward to seeing the outcome of this Working Party and potentially welcoming another profession into the vet-led team.”
It is expected that the Working Group will make a final report to the Registration Committee and RCVS Council before the end of 2021.
The Environment & Sustainability Working Party has been formed to consider the development of a formal policy in this area both for the RCVS and in relation to the profession as a whole.
In setting up this Working Group and planning a formal policy, the RCVS has joined forces with the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC), an organisation that seeks to coordinate the work of the UK professions in this area. The Working Group, which will report to the Advancement of the Professions Committee, will seek to: create an internal environment & sustainability policy for the College; create a policy for the profession that it can promote via both its regulatory and Royal College functions; inform the College’s ongoing work with the UKHACC; and, make recommendations concerning potential new environmental and sustainability initiatives.
Sue Paterson, the RCVS Council member who will be chairing the group, said: “In our professional declaration as veterinary surgeons, we pledge to ensure the health and welfare of animals in our care and I think part of this can be a greater recognition of the environmental footprint of veterinary medicine and how we can innovate and change the way we do things to mitigate and reduce our environmental impact.
“I’m really looking forward to chairing this group and working with the UKHACC, and other organisations already doing excellent work in this area such as the British Veterinary Association and Vet Sustain, to find practical, inexpensive and feasible ways of being a more environmentally-friendly and sustainability-focused profession in all its different areas.”
Those who are interested in find out more about either of these two Working Parties can contact Ben Myring, Policy & Public Affairs Manager who will act as secretary for them both, on firstname.lastname@example.org