The Veterinary Innovation Council
A collaborative, industry-wide initiative focused on leading innovation in global animal health.
The Veterinary Innovation Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access and quality in animal healthcare worldwide by developing and championing disruptive solutions surrounding key emerging issues.
To be an effective steward of the veterinary profession, instigating needed change in a collaborative way to transform the veterinary ecosystem.
Innovation that advances the veterinary medical profession and leads to improved animal health and welfare.
What We Do
Ongoing Strategic Goals & Objectives
VIC works to identify issues that are not currently being solved that will have a large impact on the veterinary community with specific focus on animal health and economic impact. After identification, committees are created to lead the process of curating and vetting future topics for consideration. After approval, recommendations/solutions are presented to the veterinary community.
The Council develops relationships that serve as a solid foundation for productive collaboration to drive engagement, and then collaborates with other professional groups to increase engagement within the complex veterinary ecosystem. Our work involves the broader veterinary community in generative conversations to generate awareness of the organizations role and the impact of its efforts.
2022 VIC Strategic Initiative:
Breaking Barriers: Delivering Care Through a Client-Centered Approach
- The veterinary profession recognizes the science-based evidence supporting the positive impact of animals in our society and on human physical and emotional health (the human-animal bond).
- Approximately 70% of US households have pets, and the overwhelming majority of them see their pets as family members.
- Many pet owners in the US currently don’t regularly access veterinary healthcare services and, as a result, 88 million animals receive minimum to no care.
- 50% of pets are owned by households with less than $54,000 of income, supporting the notion that many families face financial constraints providing healthcare for the animal members of their families under the current structure of practice and delivery systems.
- Access to care is affected by many factors beyond finances, including geography, travel and transport challenges, scheduling obstacles, limited clinical resources, cultural and communication barriers, owner understanding of basic animal health conditions, owner awareness of the value of preventative care, and more.
- The Veterinary Innovation Council believes it is important for all animals to have access to basic veterinary healthcare services.
We believe families with pets currently access care in a variety of ways, from traditional veterinary settings to new practice models, and through virtual care platforms that meet their needs. We are already seeing innovators in the market deploying models to deliver preventive care and triage advice, aimed to reach a broader segment of pet owners seeking those services.
However, right now, we do not have sufficient market solutions to provide care options and models to address the need for veterinary medical services across the spectrum of care needs (preventive, wellness, sick, condition management, etc.) for pets, particularly for those in households in lower income quartiles and veterinary services deserts.
We believe it is the responsibility of the veterinary profession to develop and embrace/accept more flexible and innovative solutions to expand the delivery of critical veterinary services to currently underserved pets, families and communities.
Therefore, our new goal is to explore solutions that expand access to a spectrum of care. In pursuit of this goal, we will research, collate and analyze data in these key areas:
- Identify existing clinical and business models that expand access by adopting a more flexible spectrum of care approach
- Better understand how current value based / low-cost models impact the number of pets receiving care based on the demographic data of their communities compared to those that do not have these options available.
- Gather data on client cost and patient outcomes in practices that have adopted a spectrum of care approach compared to traditional companion animal practices.
- Gather published information to identify diagnostic and treatment options for commonly encountered clinical presentation that lower costs without materially affecting outcomes.
- Better understand the drivers of behaviors of pet owners that do not regularly seek traditional veterinary care, and the health outcomes for their pets.
2021 Strategic Initiative:
Building Better Teams
Building Better Teams
Pet healthcare in the United States faces challenges on all fronts due to chronic shortages throughout the system. The below challenges exist in veterinary medicine and are the basis to the development of VIC’s seven strategic steps toward building better teams.
- There are too few veterinarians to meet growing demand by millennials for pet care, with the shortage increasing each year.
- There are too few credentialed veterinary technicians/nurses, a general dissatisfaction with utilization of their trained skills and competencies and low pay.
- There is a lack of training or awareness for veterinarians on how best to work with veterinary technicians/nurses and why it is vital to successful practices.
- We have a confusing mixture of titles and responsibilities for veterinary technicians/nurses from state to state, with pet owners not understanding their expertise, training and certification.
- There’s a need to apply lessons from human healthcare about the essential role of extenders or professionals other than veterinary medical doctors. A thoughtful, national strategy must be developed to address these issues.
- With the exception of four universities, veterinary schools are not involved with academic programs for veterinary technicians/nurses.
- The new culture of pets in America and the rise of millennial pet owners has increased overall demand for pet healthcare professionals.
Five Key Focuses of Building Better Teams
- Build understanding and respect across the veterinary profession for the vital, underutilized talents of credentialed veterinary technicians/nurses, including specialists.
- Support the national initiative (VNI) to standardize the credentialed veterinary technician profession in Veterinary Practice Acts under the title of “Registered Veterinary Nurse”.
- Focus on the quality, requirements and outcomes for the two current professional degrees of a two-year A.S. degree in veterinary technology/nursing and a four-year B.S. degree in veterinary technology/nursing, and differentiate meaningfully between each degree.
- Work with stakeholders to create an accreditation process for the four-year B.S. degree plus a national certification examination through the AAVSB (modeled after its VTNE examination for A.S. degree holders).
The status quo with the veterinary technician/nurse profession is not sustainable with more than 50% of credentialed professionals changing employment within the first five years. An action plan with timetables must be designed, communicated and implemented, and that is why VIC is taking on this challenge to work with industry and the profession.
The action plan should clearly spell out roles for, and inter-relationships between veterinarians and other professionals including credentialed veterinary technicians/nurses, veterinary technician specialists, veterinary assistants and potential extenders.
Research and data reveal that most credentialed veterinary technicians are only allowed to utilize 35% of their trained, and national board-certified, level of skills in veterinary practices. This is a root cause of veterinary technician/nurse dissatisfaction and turnover, reduced veterinary practice performance and revenues, and less-than optimal delivery of quality medical care to America’s pets.
Veterinarians must step forward to address this problem and embrace veterinary technicians/nurses working to the full extent of their training and certification, including greater specialization.
The profession and industry must support the Veterinary Nurse Initiative so that all 50 states have a common title and credential, Registered Veterinary Nurse, and the public understands that an accredited AVMA-degree and national certification examination stand behind these professionals.
Only a handful of companies or organizations are supporting the Veterinary Nurse Initiative in a challenging legislative effort to amend Veterinary Practice Acts to recognize the common title of Registered Veterinary Nurse.
There are approximately 200+ AVMA-accredited two-year Associate of Science (AS) Degree programs in Veterinary Technology, enabling graduates to take the VTNE board examination administered by the AAVSB, leading to Registered, Certified or Licensed status. Each of these programs should take steps to change their degrees to Associate of Science (AS) Degree in Veterinary Nursing, and take the opportunity to modernize or upgrade programs as needed. Credentialed veterinary technicians/nurses with 2-year degrees should be exposed to additional career opportunities in public health, pharmaceuticals, FEMA, nutrition and research. The entire veterinary profession and industry must do what is necessary to effect and support this change.
Only 21 colleges and universities offer an AVMA-accredited four-year Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Veterinary Technology. These programs should follow the lead of Purdue University and change the degree to Bachelor of Science (BS) in Veterinary Nursing. At the same time, these programs must differentiate this degree in a meaningful manner from the AS degree so that graduates are empowered to perform duties and provide value reflecting two additional years of study, and be certified by a unique national board examination administered by AAVSB for four-year degree holders.
The entire veterinary profession and industry must support efforts by accreditors to recognize and implement these changes, particularly emphasizing management, business, leadership, communication, critical thinking, and enhanced clinical skills. Veterinary colleges should develop relationships with and engage these four-year programs. Experienced veterinary technicians/nurses lacking the AS degree must be presented with a pathway to participate in these higher-level career opportunities.
There are 16 Veterinary Technician Specialty academies recognized by NAVTA, certifying credentialed veterinary technicians and nurses as experts in providing nursing care in their area of discipline.
The veterinary profession and industry should collaborate, organize meetings and convene a task force to build awareness of the need for a new professional, and work with AAVSB to define the scope of practice eligible for this new profession. The title of this new professional must meet the needs of animal healthcare, be clearly understood, and be able to gain the support of veterinarians and regulatory bodies. This is no small challenge.
VIC Board of Directors
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If you’d like additional information about the VIC, or you’d like to get involved in furthering our mission to provide better care for animals everywhere, please contact Marcie Whichard directly at [email protected].
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