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Veterinarian Technician November 2006 (Vol 27, No 11) Focus: Equine Medicine

Promoting Equine Medicine: American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians

by Deborah B. Reeder

    Veterinary technicians who are interested in learning more about equine medicine and want to network with other equine technicians should consider joining the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT). The goal of the AAEVT is to promote the health and welfare of equine patients through the education and professional enrichment of veterinary technicians and assistants.

    History

    About 3 years ago, a group of equine technicians in Texas organized a day-long equine-oriented seminar for veterinary technicians. The turn­out was sig­nificant. News of the event spread, and several equine practitioners re­quested that the group hold the seminar in their localities as well. This marked the unofficial beginning of the AAEVT.

    At the 2003 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) annual convention, discussions and surveys indicated that numerous technicians were interested in forming an official equine organization. I approached the AAEP about helping us in this en­deavor and a task force, which consisted of four AAEP members as well as Sheri Miller, LVT, and myself, was formed. After much discussion, numerous emails, and a meeting at the AAEP Focus in Lexington that summer, the AAEP board of directors approved supporting the technicians, and the AAEVT was officially formed. The first membership meeting was held at the AAEP annual convention in 2004, and more than 200 technicians attended.

    Becoming Incorporated

    The AAEVT is a nonprofit corporation under the state of Texas. It is a sister organization to the AAEP and exists as a separate entity. The AAEP assisted the AAEVT with founding monies, banking services, creating a budget, organizing staff, and coordinating with the annual AAEP convention. An Advisory Council was created; it consists of an appointed AAEP board member as well as three members at large who provide support and mentorship.

    For the past several years, I had been compiling a list of potential AAEVT members. Sheri and I contacted several individuals on this list to find volunteers to help with the organizing process and eight technicians were selected to form the AAEVT Executive Organizing Committee. Aided by the task force, this committee established a preliminary set of bylaws and policies and procedures to enable the organization to move forward.

    Membership

    Membership in the AAEVT was originally open to all technicians and assistants in the United States and Canada; earlier this year, membership was also extended to technicians and assistants outside these two countries. Early on, the issue was raised of whether certification should be a requirement for membership; however, it was decided that this defeated the purpose of the AAEVT. Most of the technicians and assistants employed by the equine industry are not certified, and the organization's main purpose is to provide continuing education, training, and networking. Therefore, the group decided not to limit membership to licensed technicians; even students are encouraged to join. Most accredited schools offer very little specialized veterinary information to support the needs of equine practitioners and the industry. Therefore, many equine practitioners have embraced the AAEVT; they not only sponsor membership for their technicians and assistants but also pay for and send them to the regional meetings and the AAEP/AAEVT annual convention. The AAEVT currently has more than 1,200 members, and this number is expected to grow significantly by next year.

    Training and CE Opportunities

    Technicians who join the AAEVT are offered numerous equine-oriented continuing education (CE) and training opportunities. Because many veterinary organizations and conferences are geared primarily toward small animal medicine, there is a lack of equine-oriented information, including seminars, online CE, advanced courses, wet labs, books, articles, and manuals. In addition, equine training at veterinary technology schools (even at some of the accredited schools) is lacking or optional. Therefore, the AAEVT plans to make equine-oriented CE and training available to its members at all levels (national, regional, and state) and to provide training online as well. Future plans include establishing an Equine Technician Academy for advanced CE and training for certified technicians. The AAEVT wants to work with the AVMA and the accredited technician schools to increase the level of training in equine medicine.

    Numerous seminars have been scheduled, including several 1-day events that will focus on specialized areas, such as equine radiology or anesthesia. A template has been created for regional meetings; topics such as horse handling, radiology, anesthesia, and laboratory procedures are encouraged at each meeting so that practitioners who are sponsoring a technician will know what the format entails. Plans are to offer both basic and advanced tracks. Regional meetings will offer a half-day of wet labs, including horse handling, and 2 days of lectures, which will include scientific information, personal development, and practice management. Roundtable discussions will also be held so that technicians can discuss both trends in the equine industry as well as current clinical issues. Tours will be offered of nearby clinics or horse breeding farms or training facilities. Participants will be given opportunities to ask questions, network, and find mentors as well as gain hands-on experience.

    Other Benefits

    The AAEVT has created a Web site (www.aaevt.org) where interested technicians and assistants can learn more about the group and apply for membership. Future plans for the site include posting the association's news­letters along with industry updates, contact information for AAEVT board and committee members, links to other equine-related resources, information on CE and regional meetings, job opportunities, and an updated list of members by region and their area of expertise.

    The AAEVT continues to create alliances and educational partners in the equine industry; the companies that support this association realize the need for the AAEVT and are committed to helping the association achieve its goals. The AAEVT plans to increase communication and networking within the equine veterinary technician community and to educate the public about the worth and training of equine technicians as well as their commitment to the profession. The association will work closely with the AAEP and the industry to present a partnership approach to providing resources, leadership, and professionalism for the benefit of the equine industry and the stewardship of horses.

    NEXT: Tech Talk (November 2006)

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