New Legislation Expands Roles for Veterinary Technicians in Colorado

New Legislation Expands Roles for Veterinary Technicians in Colorado

July 9, 2024— The Colorado legislature has enacted House Bill 24-1047, Veterinary Technician Scope of Practice, directing the State Board of Veterinary Medicine to define specific tasks for Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs), Veterinary Technician Specialists (VTSs), and other practice staff. This legislation recognizes the expertise of Colorado’s veterinary technicians, promoting their appropriate use in practice. It also addresses the rising demand for veterinary services, particularly in rural areas, by optimizing the use of skilled staff, ensuring better care for animals, and expanding access to veterinary services.

The legislation:

  • Elevates veterinarians’ ability to delegate effectively to all veterinary staff.
  • Recognizes and encourages the efficient and effective use of the education, training, and expertise of all veterinary staff to ensure that Colorado’s animals have adequate access to veterinary care.
  • Provides clear definition of delegation and supervision and authorizes veterinarians to delegate a broad range of tasks with appropriate supervision to veterinary staff to allow all veterinary professionals to contribute more to the delivery of veterinary care.

The State Board of Veterinary Medicine is tasked in the bill with establishing rules for the provisions of the bill by September 1, 2025.

Key provisions of the new law:

  1. Recognition of Skills: Most importantly, this legislation elevates and acknowledges the education and skill set of our Colorado veterinary technicians and veterinary technician specialists, promoting their appropriate utilization in veterinary practice.
  2. Encouragement of Delegation: The bill authorizes veterinarians to delegate appropriate duties, based on skill set to qualified veterinary staff, improving efficiency, service delivery, and access to care in veterinary practices.
  3. Supervision Levels: The bill clearly defines three levels of delegation and supervision – direct, immediate, and indirect.
  4. Scope of Practice: Veterinary technicians and veterinary technician specialists can be delegated a broad range of tasks, enhancing their ability to support licensed veterinarians and animals’ medical support teams.
  5. Delegation to Non-Technicians: Licensed veterinarians are authorized to delegate tasks to trained and experienced individuals who are not veterinary technicians or veterinary technician specialists under direct or immediate supervision, except for minor medical conditions.
  6. Prescription Orders: Veterinarians can delegate the administration or filling of prescription orders to individuals with the appropriate level of training.
  7. Animal Shelter Delegation: For animals that are the property of or under the stewardship of an animal shelter, the legislation allows licensed veterinarians to delegate animal shelter tasks to properly trained individuals under indirect supervision, in compliance with a verbal or written protocol provided by the licensed veterinarian.
  8. Livestock and Animal Husbandry Practices: Licensed veterinarians can now delegate animal husbandry practices and other tasks to trained individuals after establishing a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) and in compliance with written or verbal instructions developed by the licensed veterinarian.
  9. Registration of Veterinary Technician Specialists: The bill provides criteria for the formal registration of veterinary technician specialists, acknowledging their advanced skills and enabling them to take on more complex duties within the practice. Veterinarians may delegate any task to a VTS under indirect supervision.
  10. Continuing Education: The bill mandates that Colorado-licensed veterinarians complete two hours of mandatory continuing education on delegation and supervision of personnel each state licensing period. This new education will be required for 2026 license renewals. Look forward to more on when this education may be available.

With the implementation of House Bill 24-1047, Colorado sets a precedent in recognizing and utilizing the full potential of our veterinary technicians, aiming for a more responsive, accessible, and efficient veterinary care system. A more efficient veterinary team means that staff retention, improved wellbeing, and increased access to care will result.

This legislative change will improve overall veterinary service delivery by elevating and better engaging our talented Colorado veterinary technicians, making it a win-win for veterinary professionals and pet owners alike. The bill has been signed into law by Governor Polis and will go into effect August 7, 2024.

Download a summary, formatted for distribution and education purposes here. If you have any questions about the application of the new legislation, please contact CVMA or CACVT.

Note: Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) acknowledges that state law impacting veterinary medicine is implemented/regulated by the Colorado State Veterinary Board of Medicine. Information stated within this blog post and available handout regarding HB24-1047 is not verbatim legislative text and is provided as educational, interpretive material only.