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Certification as a VTS (Anesthesia and Analgesia) promotes patient safety, consumer protection, professionalism and excellence in anesthesia care. The Veterinary Anesthesia arena is constantly evolving, thus, the attainment of competence is a continual activity.  One of the primary means for assuring the public and the profession that the AVTAA Veterinary Technician Specialist is a highly qualified individual; is through our credentialing process.  The credentialing process is rigorous, however, it is not designed to be an obstacle to prevent candidates from becoming specialty certified.  The process is intended to assure the public and the profession that specialty certified technicians are truly qualified. The credential requirements are straight forward although there are a few areas where the applicant will need to be watchful. 

Do I have to be a graduate of an AVMA approved veterinary technology program?

Currently, no.  You must be licensed to practice in your state or province.  You will need to include a copy of your current in-date license.  If you are a graduate of an AVMA approved veterinary technology program, include a copy of your diploma in your application.

Do I have to work in a veterinary specialty practice?

The answer is no, you do not have to work in a specialty practice or university to gain the necessary experience.  However, the types of cases that you anesthetize on a regular basis will play a large role in determining if you have the case load to meet the case log and case report requirements.  In addition, a veterinarian who is board certified by an American or European College/Board or a VTS (any NAVTA approved academy) must be available to sign your skills list and be willing to write one letter of recommendation.

You are required to have worked a minimum of 6000 hours AND have a minimum of 3 years experience before you apply.  (40 hrs/week x 50 weeks/year = 2000 hrs/year x 3 years = 6000 hrs).  These hours are based on a 5 year period with a June to June time frame.  During that time you must have provided a minimum of 4500 hours of anesthesia care as described in the AVTAA definition of anesthesia.  (6000 x 75% = 4500)  (If you do NOT do anesthesia 75% of your work day, it will take longer than 3 years to accumulate enough hours to apply to the academy) You may only submit hours that you have worked after you are credentialed as a veterinary technician.  The definition of anesthesia care can be found here.  If your practice does not routinely see patients with ASA ratings of III or above, it may be difficult to demonstrate your experience and proficiency in advanced anesthesia care.

How do I account for my Continuing Education?

Maintain careful documentation of your CE attendance. You may submit photocopies of the course description provided by the organization providing the CE as proof that the continuing education was related to anesthesia if the title does not do so. The CE Form must include, the organization, title, speaker, speaker's credentials, date and hours of attendance.  A photocopy of a certificate or document provided by the organization or speaker that includes the number of hours of continuing education you received must be provided as proof of attendance.  You may want to submit MORE than 40 hours of CE to account for any talks being rejected by the Credentials Committee.   

How many case logs must I submit?

If you submit only the minimum number of cases for the case log (50) you may have your application rejected because one or more cases may not be acceptable.

It is recommended that more than 50 cases (but not more than 60) be included in the log in the event the credentials committee determines that one or more cases do not meet the definition of primary anesthesia care. The case selection should be varied and include ASA I-V.

You may also use the one page of abbreviation descriptions provided by AVTAA with your case log.  Your case log should contain cases you provided anesthesia to, at your place of employment, from January until December of the year you submit your application.

How do I write an acceptable Case Report?

With regards to the case reports, good case selection is important.  Use your toughest cases, or ones that required you to make multiple alterations to protocol in accommodation of the patient's status.  Make sure you explain the WHY behind drug selection, monitoring equipment, analgesia plan, fluid therapy plan, equipment selection, etc.  Follow the case report layout that is located in the application instruction packet.  Each section MUST be present in each report.  Case reports will be rejected if the required format (length, margins, font and spacing) is not followed. The patient outcome is not important in writing case reports. In other words, whether or not the patient lives of dies will not influence the committee.  You will need to provide a copy of the anesthesia record for each of your four case reports.  Be careful to delete any private client information from the anesthesia record you provide. 

Ways of demonstrating your knowledge and experience in your case reports:

1. Show how your observations, physical examination and history taking assisted the veterinarian with the development of a safe and effective anesthesia plan.

2. Explain why an observation was important or why you asked a certain question during the anesthesia period.

3. Describe how an observation and response by you helped to avoid an anesthetic complication.

4. Describe the procedures you performed or with which you assisted.  Explain why the procedure was performed.

5. Explain your reasoning for the physiological monitoring used.

6. Explain how you helped determine whether the patient's anesthetic plan and pain management strategy was effective.

7. Explain how your observations and monitoring helped the veterinarian modify the patient's anesthetic plan or treatment.

8. Explain your role in planning the patient's anesthesia care.

9. Show your understanding of the problem(s) being treated.

10. Explain your contingency plans for all anticipated problems.

Who may sign off on my skills list?

You must master the stated number of skills in each section.  A veterinarian who is board certified by an American or European College/Board, a veterinarian who is board eligible or a VTS (any NAVTA approved academy) who has mastered the skill may attest to your mastery of the skill.  Mastering a skill is not performing it once!  You must be able to perform the skill multiple times, sometimes on multiple species, without guidance.  You must also understand the basis for the skill, the machinery used and be able to trouble-shoot any problems.