For each meeting of the VMB or the MDC, a CaRVTA Regulatory/Legislative Committee member is in attendance to report back on information that is important to our members, as well as to represent CaRVTA when appropriate.
Recent VMB News for RVTs
VMB Sunset Language added to SB 304
July 2013: Sue Geranen, the Executive Officer of the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB), reported that the VMB's Sunset language has been added to a new bill, SB 304, after the original bill, SB 304, was pulled. The language for the new bill has not been finalized, but will include the requirement for veterinary assistants who obtain or administer controlled drugs to be fingerprinted starting in 2015. The exact language of the bill should be available on August 5, one day prior to a hearing at the Assembly Business & Professions Committee. To read the bill after August 5, go to leginfo.ca.gov and enter 304. SB 304 is the Price bill.
Ms. Geranen clarified that once the Sunset bill is approved and in effect next year, the RVT Task Force would cease to exist since Kim Williams, the RVT on the VMB, as well as a VMB DVM from the VMB, will be added to the Multidisciplinary Committee (MDC). The MDC will then take over dealing with RVT issues.
Transistion to VTNE Schedule for March 1, 2014; Fees Total $600
July 2013: The VMB held a public hearing on proposed regulations for the transition to the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The transition is currently scheduled to take place March 1, 2014. The regulation provides for candidates to pay a $125 application fee and a $175 fee for the California RVT Exam, which will consist of questions restricted to veterinary jurisprudence. Candidates will also have to pay the $300 fee to take the VTNE. These fees will mean an increase of $300, since candidates have been paying the $125 application and $175 exam fee to take the California RVT licensing exam.
At the hearing, Nancy Ehrlich, RVT, CaRVTA Regulatory/Legislative Liaison, testified that the $300 fee increase will likely cause some candidates to postpone or even put off indefinitely taking the exams. She recommended that the VMB do everything they can to reduce the fees, including allowing the application fee to apply to at least two test administrations if the candidate fails one of the exams. After considerable discussion about the fees, the VMB voted to approve the regulations as written. However, they agreed to perform a cost analysis with the intent of lowering the fees if the analysis shows that to be possible. The analysis will be available at the VMB's next meeting in October.
VMB & Alternate Route Update
July 2013: Kim Williams, RVT, reported on the work of the VMB's RVT Task Force. The Task Force has been working on regulations to approve Alternate Route programs. In addition to regulations for the programs, the Task Force is proposing to change the requirements for the Alternate Route, including requiring a minimum of 200 of the 300 hours in the job-related subjects and at least 5 hours in each required subject. Nancy Ehrlich, RVT, informed the VMB that CaRVTA opposes changing the requirements because the Alternate Route has been working as intended.
She provided the statistics that since its inception in 1994, 20% of all RVTs used the Alternate Route. During the past 10 years, 26% of all RVTs used the category, and in the past 5 years, 34% of all RVTs qualified using the Alternate Route. She pointed out that in the absence of any evidence that changes are needed, requiring 5 hours of general education subjects like chemistry or biology was creating an impossible situation, since 5-hour courses in these subjects are not available. Ms. Ehrlich also pointed out that the VMB, DCA and all other agencies in the government that must approve regulations, had already declared that the current Alternate Route was equivalent to graduation from a 2-year AVMA-approved program, the standard which all eligibility categories must meet.
Further discussion about Alternate Route changes will continue at the next RVT Task Force meeting on November 14, in Sacramento.
VMB Seeking Inspectors & Applications for VMB Vacancy
Updated July 2013
- Sue Geranen announced that she will be retiring at the end of November. The VMB is accepting applications for her replacement. Interested candidates can view the requirements for the position here: jobs.spb.ca.gov.bull2/exemptpdfs/07122013_7.pdf. The VMB is planning to hold a special Board meeting in late September or early October to interview and possibly select the new EO, who serves at the pleasure of the VMB.
- The VMB is recruiting DVMs and RVTs for Hospital Inspector positions, especially for the Central Valley. Interested? Call the VMB at 916 263-2423 for more information.
Possible VMB Alternate Route Changes
Updated May 2013
Alternate Route programs have proliferated in recent years, prompting the VMB to create an approval process for them, as required by law. Discussion on March 12 included whether students in these programs should have to complete some or all of their required work experience prior to enrolling in the program— as well as whether there should be a minimum or maximum number of hours for each of the required subjects.
The current regulation only requires that there be a course in each of the subjects, but does not require minimum or maximum hours. Under consideration were the options: make no change since there doesn't appear to be a problem with the current regulation; consider minimum hours only for the RVT job-related subjects; consider removing a separate requirement for the general education subjects and make them part of the RVT-related courses; or, consider a maximum for the general education subjects.
CaRVTA's position is that there is no need to alter the Alternate Route, as it has been working as intended. In addition, AVMA accredited and California approved RVT schools do not have minimum or maximum hours requirements for their programs. The regulations for these programs require a minimum number of total hours in specific subject areas, just as the Alternate Route does.
Debate on this matter at the first meeting over this matter included a lively discussion, with most of the public in attendance suggesting that no change was required, while several Task Force members advocated for change. Since no consensus was reached, it was agreed to continue the discussion at a future meeting. That meeting has now been set for June 11, in Sacramento.
CaRVTA Board President Allyne Moon attended the April SCVMA meeting to discuss the possibility of obtaining the veterinary association's support in CaRVTA's stance against the VMB's discussed changes to the Alternate Route. Please consider attending this important VMB RVT Task Force meeting and making your voice heard in Sacramento.
The current regulation, which has been in effect since 1994, requires a minimum of 300 hours or 20 semester or 30 quarter units, in specific subject areas, but does not require any minimum or maximum number of hours in any particular subject. Alternate Route candidates have been required to have at least one course in each required subject area, but it is currently left to the candidates to decide how many hours in any particular subject area are appropriate for them.
The RVT Task Force consists of the two members of the RVT Sub-Committee of the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB)—Kim Williams, RVT, and Dr. Cheryl Waterhouse—as well as the two members of the Multidisciplinary Advisory Committee's (MDC) RVT Sub- Committee, David Johnson, RVT, and Dr. Oscar Chavez.
CaRVTA will continue to keep you posted on this important matter.
VMB Sunset Review Update
The VMB came up for Sunset Review in front of a joint meeting of the Senate and Assembly Business and Professions Committees on March 19. Every agency in the Department of Consumer Affairs must undergo periodic reviews by the Legislature to determine if they should continue operation or if their Practice Acts need adjustment. Much of the discussion at the hearing revolved around why RVT issues were being neglected or delayed. The VMB stated that they had been short staffed and that other issues at the MDC took precedence. CVMA testified that they were very happy with how the MDC was functioning but had problems with delays in processing disciplinary actions.
Nancy Ehrlich, RVT, CaRVTA's Regulatory/Legislative Liaison, testified that CaRVTA was very disappointed that since the RVTC was sunsetted, RVT issues have not been given sufficient priority. She stated that the goal of the MDC handling RVT issues had not been met, since the MDC had not even discussed RVT issues at all. She promoted CaRVTA's position that the RVT Committee (RVTC) should be reinstated as the only sure method of insuring that RVT issues were handled in a public and timely manner. Ehrlich clarified that a Task Force is for temporary issues and that RVT issues are on-going and need a regular venue for discussion. She also pointed out that the number of RVTs has grown 69% since the last Sunset Review in 2003, while the number of veterinarians has grown only 31% and the number of premises only 7%. Carol Schumacher, RVT, the Chair of the RVTC when it was sunsetted, testified that she was disappointed that RVT issues have been neglected and concurred that a new RVTC was the best solution.
The issue of access to—and the administration of—controlled substances was also discussed. Current law allows assistants to administer controlled substances—and all other drugs—under the direct and indirect supervision of a veterinarian. Assistants with access to controlled drugs must undergo a background check to insure they are free of drug convictions. The plan was to require fingerprinting of assistants with access to controlled drugs once the VMB established a program. Sue Geranen, the Executive Officer of the VMB, testified that the VMB cannot create a fingerprinting program for several years due to computer system limitations. Therefore, the VMB is suggesting that access to the controlled drug central supply be limited to licensees to avoid the need for a fingerprinting program. CaRVTA has previously supported limiting access to the central supply to licensees. It was agreed that stakeholders would meet to come up with a new law that was workable.
Ms. Ehrlich also promoted CaRVTA's position that the legislature consider requiring all veterinary personnel to wear name tags with their official designation so that clients know who is treating their animals.
May 9 Update: SB 307, the bill that reauthorizes the Veterinary Medical Board, was heard in the Senate Business & Professions Committee on April 29. At the end of the Sunset hearing on March 19, Assembly B&P Committee Chair Richard Gordon noted the committee was considering reducing the time between sunset reviews from 4 years to 2 years for the VMB to insure that RVT issues were properly handled. The bill has been amended to include that 2-year sunset review.
SB307 also includes a provision requiring veterinary assistants who have access to controlled substances to be fingerprinted starting in 2015. The fingerprinting program would be instituted only if the VMB receives sufficient funding and staff to implement the program. The VMB has indicated that it may not be able to comply if its computer system is not upgraded. The bill has been re-referred to the Senate Appropriation Committee.
VMB RVT Task Force Discusses VTNE Transistion
Earlier in 2013, the VMB RVT Task Force discussed the VTNE Reciprocity. The items under discussion included the regulations necessary to make the switch from a California only licensing exam to the national RVT exam (VTNE) plus a supplement on California law. One of the proposals would make it easier for RVTs from other states to become licensed in California. The proposal would allow RVTs who have taken the VTNE, are currently licensed and in good standing, and whose employers sign them off on the Task List and document at least 4416 hours of employment as an RVT, to take just the California law exam regardless of when they had taken the VTNE. This regulation would create a true reciprocity program for out-of-state RVTs. Candidates who have taken the VTNE out-of-state but have not become licensed would have to take the California law exam within 5 years of passing the VTNE, just as will be required of in-state candidates.
There was also discussion about the content of the new law exam. It was agreed that since California does not have control over the content of the VTNE, it was advisable to maintain the option to add content to the exam about the RVT specific job tasks. Although the exam will consist of only questions about California law for now, it was decided that it should be called the California RVT Exam in the regulations to allow for other content in the future.
RVT School Regulation Updates
Updated Feb. 18, 2013
A public hearing was held on the proposed regulations regarding California-approved RVT schools. The proposal was approved with a few minor amendments. A 15-day notice will be sent out regarding the amendments. Assuming there are no objections to the amendments, the regulation will take 6-9 months to work its way through the various state agencies before going into effect. The primary effect of the regulations is to clarify that AVMA-accredited RVT schools in California must also be approved by the VMB, although they will be exempt from many of the requirements as long as they maintain their AVMA accreditation. However, if the schools fail to comply with the California regulations, they can be put on probation or lose their California approval.
Other VMB News Items
Updated May 9, 2013
The VMB met on April 24 in Newport Beach. Board members reviewed their proposed regulation on Animal Rehabilitation (AR), which would restrict the delegation of AR to licensed Physical Therapists (PT) or to RVTs under the Direct Supervision of a veterinarian. It was announced that the proposed regulation would be on the VMB's agenda for Public Hearing in January. Quite a few PTs and their clients spoke in opposition to the proposal. They generally agreed that Direct Supervision was unnecessary and too costly. Most felt that PTs are capable of reading physical cues and could tell when an animal was in distress. Some PTs pointed out that they work on young children and disabled people who cannot speak, which requires similar skills to working on non-verbal animals. Sue Geranen, the Executive Officer of the VMB, pointed out that it is the opinion of the VMB's legal counsel that AR is included in the definition of veterinary medicine and cannot, therefore, be performed by anyone unless they are under the supervision of a veterinarian.
The VMB also announced that the new Minimum Standards regulations that include an upgraded definition of dental operation, required an additional 15-day notice, but that they have been granted an extension so the regulation can proceed. They also announced that the Animal Control Tranquilizer Manual will be presented at the July meeting. Previous legislation allows Animal Control Officers who receive training as defined by the VMB may utilize certain controlled substances as an alternative to lethal force.
Updated Feb. 19, 2013
Nancy Ehrlich, RVT, CaRVTA's Regulatory Liaison, brought up the issue of out-of- state RVTs who want to move to California. CaRVTA receives approximately one inquiry per week from interested out-of-state RVTs. The current regulations were written when California used its own licensing exam and are not clear about how to handle those RVTs who have already taken the VTNE in another state. Susan Geranen, the Executive Officer of the VMB, stated that Section 2068.1 should be clarified to state that out-of-state RVTs would be eligible to take the California RVT law exam if they have already passed the VTNE.
Dr. Dick Sullivan raised the issue of epidural injections and who may administer them. The consensus of opinion at the meeting was that if an anesthetic drug is being administered, a veterinarian may only delegate that task to an RVT under direct supervision. If a non-anesthetic drug is being administered, a veterinarian may delegate the task to either an RVT or a veterinary assistant under direct or indirect supervision. The VMB voted to send further discussion of the issue to the Multidisciplinary Advisory Committee (MDC). The issue was given high priority.
The VMB discussed Section 2027—the regulation that permits junior and senior veterinary students and graduates of recognized veterinary schools to function as RVTs. At issue is the potential problem of unlicensed veterinary school graduates possibly exceeding the scope of an RVT and performing tasks reserved for veterinarians. Since these individuals are not licensed, the VMB has limited options for discipline. Staff was directed to look into whether this is a problem requiring some action.
Going forward, the VMB will send notices to licensees 90-120 days prior to their relicensure dates, notifying individuals that they have been selected for a CE audit. This procedure is intended to give licensees enough time to acquire the CE if they don’t already have it. Approximately 10% of licensees are audited each year. RVTs should keep their CE certificates on file and not send them in with their license renewals, unless they have been notified that they are being audited.
Unlicensed Veterinary Activity
When the VMB receives a complaint about unlicensed activity, it first investigates the complaint. Second, it sends a Cease & Desist letter to the individual, giving them an opportunity to explain whether or not they are actually engaged in the unlicensed activity. If they are performing the activity and do not desist, they are issued a citation and fine. They may also be referred to the local District Attorney for criminal prosecution. The VMB has passed a motion to direct its legal counsel to investigate further enforcement options. For information about how to file a complaint, go to www.vmb.ca.gov/consumers/comp_inf.shtml. If you prefer, you can contact CaRVTA's Regulatory/Legislative Liaison by sending an email to: email@example.com or calling (916) 244-2494 ext 210.