Is a Veterinary Technician a Nurse?

I spoke with a Nurse Practitioner today and she made me aware of the following bill:

HB2288 Ramsey B. — Changes in veterinary licensing classifications. Changes veterinary licensing classification from veterinary technician to veterinary nurse. Authorizes the board of veterinary medical examiners to adapt rules in accordance with the UAPA related the practice, application process, license renewal, license fee, and penalties. Requires that licensed veterinary technicians in good standing on or before January 1, 2019 be granted a registered veterinary nurse license upon renewal. –SB2184 – Mike Bell – 3/15/18 – TAKEN OFF NOTICE in Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. ***PLEASE NOTE*** with the senate action, no further consideration should be taken on HB2288.

Definition of a Nurse

The nurse is a person who has completed a program of basic, generalized nursing education and is authorized by the appropriate regulatory authority to practice nursing in his/her country.  Basic nursing education is a formally recognized program of study providing a broad and sound foundation in the behavioral, life, and nursing sciences for the general practice of nursing, for a leadership role, and for post-basic education for specialty or advanced nursing practice.  The nurse is prepared and authorized (1) to engage in the general scope of nursing practice, including the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and care of physically ill, mentally ill, and disabled people of all ages and in all health care and other community settings; (2) to carry out health care teaching; (3) to participate fully as a member of the health care team; (4) to supervise and train nursing and health care auxiliaries; and (5) to be involved in research.  (International Council of Nurses)

What does a veterinary technician do?

If you choose to become a vet tech, the kinds of duties you perform on a daily basis will depend on the type of facility you work in, but you’ll always be assisting vets in caring for animal patients. Your duties will likely encompass a wide array of tasks, from keeping medical records to administering shots and medication. General tasks could include: (All Allied Health Schools)

  • Observing animal patients for changes in behavior
  • Preparing animals for exams or surgery
  • Giving animals nursing care or first aid
  • Collecting and test lab samples
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Giving medications, shots, or treatments
  • Collecting and maintaining patient records


The insight that I received from the Nurse Practitioner that I spoke with today: Nurses in Tennessee are very upset about the prospect of this bill passing.  The bill did not pass this year but it will be up again for vote next year.  Nurses are taught to care for the human body.  Nurses believe the term of nurse should be for nurses only.  The role that veterinary techs play in the health care for pets seems vastly different than the role that nurses play in the health care for humans.

I am interested to learn more about this issue from both sides. I understand the difference between a nurse and a veterinary technician.  I am not sure why we need to change the term for a veterinary technician.  I will look forward to making a decision about this bill next year as your Representative in District 89!


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