Veterinary hospitals work a lot like human hospitals. Veterinarians are the doctors, registered veterinary technicians are similar to registered nurses while everyone else is considered a veterinarian assistant. Most people know who the veterinarian is in a veterinary hospital, but sometimes consumers (even animal health professionals) may blur the lines between licensed and unlicensed staff. It's important for consumers to know who the licensed and unlicensed staff are and the roles they play in a pet's care. Here's an overview of who's who in veterinary healthcare, from the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB).
VACSPs are individuals who pass a background check are licensed by the VMB to handle and administer controlled substances at veterinary premises as directed by the licensed veterinarian.
Tip: While VACSPs can administer controlled substances, only a DVM can prescribe medications.
Unlicensed Staff – Veterinary Assistants
All unlicensed staff in a veterinary facility are considered veterinary assistants and may assist with supporting tasks under the direct or indirect supervision of a DVM or under the direct supervision of an RVT, but are not allowed to perform tasks restricted to DVMs, RVTs or VACSPs. Unlicensed staff may not treat animals outside a hospital setting.
Tip: Unlicensed staff may operate radiographic equipment, but only after completing specific training and only under direct supervision.
The VMB is responsible for licensing and inspecting veterinary premises where animal health care services are performed. By inspecting these facilities, the VMB is ensuring that facilities are complying with the California Veterinary Practice Medicine Act (Practice Act) and that California consumers and their pets are protected.