Positive Paws Pet Services

Serving La Plata, MD and surrounding communities

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  • Alyssa Cary, LVT

What is an LVT?

LVT. RVT. CVT. RVN. VTS. There are so many acronyms out there, especially in the medical world. What do they all mean? I think most people recognize DVM to mean Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, but what about those veterinary team members with LVT, RVT, or CVT behind their names?


An L, R, or CVT is a Licensed/Registered/Credentialed Veterinary Technician. Every state has different qualifications and requirements for the title they recognize, but in general those three letters recognize veterinary technicians who have been through an accredited veterinary technician program at an accredited school, and passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). In Virginia, where I am credentialed, the title is Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT). In Maryland, the title is Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT).


Kind of confused? You’re not alone. There’s currently a movement to standardize the credentialing across the country and make the title more recognizable to the general public. The NAVTA is working to make those three letters RVN for everyone: Registered Veterinary Nurse. There is much debate regarding this movement in the veterinary field, because while there is a need to familiarize the general public with who we are and what we do, many technicians argue that we are not that similar to nurses in human medicine. Some human nurses feel the same and have blocked legislation that would further the RVN movement.


So what does a veterinary technician do? Quite a lot, actually. Licensed veterinary technicians can do everything a veterinarian can do with the exception of 4 things: Diagnose, prognose, prescribe medication, and perform surgery. In the animal hospital, vet techs are nurses, phlebotomists, anesthetists, dental hygienists, radiology techs, lab techs, client educators, practice leaders, team member trainers, hand and paw holders, mechanics, equipment maintenance experts, troubleshooters, IT techs, and more. Your dog has an ear infection? A vet tech told your veterinarian what was under the microscope so she could provide the correct medication to treat it. Your cat had a dental and needed a tooth extracted? Your veterinarian may not have even had a hand in your cat’s mouth – technicians help with extractions, and always perform the dental radiographs and cleaning. Your dog got hit by a car and you rushed him in? Chances are, a vet tech is the first team member to assess your pet and help the veterinarian move forward with diagnostics and treatment.


Veterinarians rely on technicians for a lot of things, especially when they’re just beginning their careers. New veterinarians learn from experienced veterinarians and technicians. Vet techs provide a check and balance system for vets, suggest tests and treatments, and are a vital part of the veterinary team.


Never take a vet tech for granted. We’re the ones spending the most hands-on time with your pets, advocating for their comfort and well-being, celebrating successful treatment, and mourning the losses.


Next time you’re in an animal hospital, take a moment to thank a vet tech. Take a moment to thank the entire veterinary team – because honestly, veterinarians can’t do it alone, and each member of the team plays an important role in every pet’s care.



Fort Hunt Animal Hospital team, November 2018. Only 4 members of the team are veterinarians, and 4 are LVTs. The rest of the team is comprised of veterinary assistants, receptionists, and management.

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