It seems some New York RNs don’t want veterinary technicians calling themselves “nurses.” A complaint to the New York State Veterinary Board was advanced to ensure naming rights to the term and to limit its proper usage to the human nursing profession.

NY’s vet board has apparently caved and is letting its licensees know they should refrain from using the term “nurse” when alluding to their veterinary technicians.

It’s clear that someone in the human medical field has a bug up their backside on this issue. And I’ll wager that whoever ‘s responsible for this frivolous application to the law doesn’t keep pets—or else they’ve never seen a veterinary technician in action.

The implication, of course, is that the RN profession needs to protect its good name from the likes of those who would sully it by commandeering it to advance animal applications.

Those who have brought forth this action are suggesting that animal medicine—and the veterinary technicial establishment—is not deserving of so ennobled a designation as “nurse.” They infer that animals are not worthy of being “nursed” like humans are. 

Though I’m insulted by this RN action, I have a hard time defending the word itself.  “Nurse” is an anachronistic, misogynistic term. Veterinary technician or “vet tech” is a far more descriptive and doesn’t denote a maternal suckling thing that has no place in modern medicine. After all, human nurses are technical and scientific—no longer do they fluff pillows and soothe the soul through their womanly presence.

Nonetheless, if a hospital really wants to call its techs “nurses,” that should be their prerogative . At the University of Pennsylvania’s vet school they’ve been doing so for at least twenty years. Someone should tell the New York RNs that the horse fled the barn on this issue long ago and that they have no intrinsic right to that term.

But you know what really gets me going the most? That the New York Board of Veterinary Medicine acquiesced on behalf of all New York veterinary technicians. Vets may hire techs but they shouldn’t regulate their profession any more than RNs allow human docs to run theirs (so you know, RNs would go ape---- if anyone tried to pull rank on them in this way).

So all you animal-loving RNs…defend your fellow medical professionals. Tell your New York brethren how you feel.

And all you veterinary technicians in New York and elsewhere…make it plain you’ll make decisions on your own, not through state official veterinarians who have no right to muck about in your profession’s issues on your behalf.