Veterinary technology is a fairly new career path in the field of veterinary medicine. Beginning in the early 1950's the first animal technology training program began in the military, followed by the first civilian veterinary technology program beginning at the State University of New York - Delhi in the early 60's (AVMA Accreditation in 1975).
The AVMA voted to begin accrediting "animal technician" programs in 1972. The term "Veterinary" was considered protected at the time to only apply to veterinarians. In 1973, Michigan State and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture were the first programs to become accredited under the new AVMA criteria.
Here in Washington, Fort Steilacoom Community College (now Pierce College) in Steilacoom, Washington was the first program to be granted AVMA accreditation in 1974. Soon after, the Washington State Association of Veterinary Technicians was established (1975). By 1976 the first professional Journal for Animal Health Technicians was published. Within a few years, the AVMA begins adding continuing education for animal technicians to their annual convention.
By 1981, a small group of "animal technicians, animal health technicians..." got together from the US and Canada to form the North American Veterinary Technician Association (NAVTA). This provided a unified voice for technicians, a place to network, but with some of the same problems that persist in the profession today as each state is responsible for its own governance of the veterinary profession.
Prior to 1983, animal technicians in Washington State were registered with the Department of Professional Licensing under their employer. Basically, if you were not employed, you were not registered. In 1983, the regulations changed and state and national board exams were put in place. This required all persons who met certain criteria to pass these examinations to become registered in Washington as an animal technician, independent of employment.
Eight years after the initial publication, The Compendium on Continuing Education for Animal Health Technicians changed its title to Veterinary Technician. Setting the precedent for title changes across the profession, but it would take a few tries...
In 1988 the AVMA votes NO to a resolution to change "Animal Technician" to "Veterinary Technician" but then in 1989, the AVMA House of Delegates votes to approve "Veterinary Technician" to replace "Animal Technician."
In 1992, NAVTA declares the third week of October to be National Veterinary Technician Week!!! Then in rapid secession, NAVTA also establishes Veterinary Technician Specialties (VTS) in 1993. The first of which is the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (AVECCT) in 1996. Followed behind by the Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetist (AVTA) in 1998.
The profession has grown by leaps and bounds requiring many states to add programs including Washington. Yakima Valley Community College became the second AVMA accredited program in Washington in 1999, and is still the only program in Eastern Washington. This is the same year the members of the Veterinary Technician Testing Committee (VTTC) of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) voted to limit access of the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) to graduates of AVMA accredited programs as of December 31, 2010.
Eleven years after the AVMA approve the term Veterinary Technician, Washington State legislation changes "Animal Technician" to "Veterinary Technician." Baby steps!
The next addition to the VTS group is the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians in 2002. This is the same year Canada establishes its own animal health care association (CAAHTT) and pulls out of NAVTA, so the Executive Board of the North American Association of Veterinary Technicians (NAVTA) changes its name to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) :)
2006 was a big year for the profession. The 4th recognized VTS is the Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians, this group is the first to include a multi specialty approach with sub-specialties in Cardiology, Large Animal Internal Medicine, Oncology, and Small Animal Internal Medicine.
In the State of Washington, many legislative changes were made, Veterinary Technicians were recognized as Licensed Practitioners rather than Registered. An LVT was added to the Veterinary Board of Governors and continuing education was added as a requirement for continued licensure.
By the mid 2000s, Washington again experience the need for more LVT programs with the recognition of PIMA Seattle in 2007, PIMA Renton in 2009, and Bellingham Technical College in 2010.
It was also during that time that many new VTS academies were recognized: The Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (AVBT), the Academy of Equine Veterinary Nursing Technicians (AEVNT), the Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians (AVZMT), the Academy of Veterinary Surgery Technicians (AVST), the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians (AVNT), the Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Clinical Practice (AVTCP), and the Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technicians (AVCPT).
As you can see, we have come a long way, but have yet a long way to go.