Require Owner Consent for Student Practice on Our Animals

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When we take our animals to our vet, we assume that he or she will be the one caring for them. But sometimes we are wrong. It is common practice for veterinary medicine and veterinary technology students to rotate through the offices of veterinary practices to get experience to supplement what they are learning in their professional training program.

In Virginia – and it’s no better anywhere else in the country – the only time we have to be told and give our consent for this is if a veterinary medicine student is performing surgery! Anything else is possible without our knowledge. And since the regulations are silent about practice by veterinary technology students, we don’t have to be told what they are doing either.

This means that some major tasks which are restricted to licensed professionals can be done by students without our knowledge – things like intubation, administering and monitoring anesthesia, starting IVs and administering fluids and medications, dental cleanings and extractions, urinary catheterizations, suturing, and more. This should not be possible. No student should ever perform any task which ordinarily requires licensure without the owner’s consent.

Since this petition started, we have had the opportunity to make our case for owner consent to the Board of Veterinary Medicine several times. They have proposed some small changes, such as requiring a sign in the office that says that students are working there, but so far they have been unwilling to require consent for anything other than surgery. At their most recent meeting, one of them stated that they do not want to expand the consent requirement to include everything because “we don’t want veterinarians getting into trouble for forgetting to tell an owner that a student will be intubating their dog for surgery.”

The people who don’t want this change are counting on waiting us out, but we can’t afford to give up – there is too much at stake. Signing this petition will keep reminding the Board that the public is watching and is not pleased with their actions so far. So please sign, and then pass the information on to everyone you know who cares about animals.