Is Veterinary Medicine Ready for a Midlevel Practitioner?

Written by: Lisa Wogan
Published on: May 12, 2022

female veterinarian
Photo credit: motortion/Adobe Stock

JoAnn Nocito hit what she called a roadblock in 2012. A credentialed veterinary technician, she was a lead supervisor at a busy emergency hospital in Arizona, where the veterinarians trusted her to work to the full extent of her training and experience, she said. She presented at national conferences and helped launch the Veterinary Nurse Initiative to unite technicians under the single title "registered veterinary nurse." Yet, she longed for more autonomy and opportunities to hone her nursing skills. Nocito said she realized she couldn't achieve her aspirations as a veterinary technician.

So, six years ago, she left the field that had been her lifelong passion to become a nurse in human medicine. Today, Nocito is a pediatric cardiac intensive care nurse at Duke Children's Hospital in North Carolina and working toward a nurse practitioner degree. She said she is happy with her career change, but if an opportunity in veterinary medicine to advance her skills and elevate her role had been available, short of becoming a doctor, she "absolutely would have done it" and probably still would be in the field today.

Nocito's experience is not unique. Driven by issues such as underutilization, poor pay, lack of respect and few opportunities for career advancement, technicians have among the highest turnover rates of any health care occupation, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Technician turnover is widely seen as a significant workforce challenge for the profession.

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