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NOTE: This information is NOT up to date for the 2021 Application packet.  Updated FAQ will be coming soon!

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 hold an active license to practice as a veterinary technician in some state (USA) or province (Canada).  International applicants must meet requirements in their country to be considered a veterinary technician/veterinary nurse.  You will need to include a copy of your current in-date license.  Graduates of an AVMA approved veterinary technology program may be asked to submit a copy of the diploma for verification. 

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.  The individual signing off on the skill(s) must have mastered the skill themselves.  AVTAA highly recommends that an applicant work with a boarded anesthesiologist, surgeon or criticalist in order to be exposed to the types of cases that are required for this application.      


Effective for the 2021 AVTAA application packet and forward the new hour requirements will be:

  • 8000 hours of credentialed experienced as a licensed veterinary technician/nurse with 6000 hours (75%) specifically related to anesthesia care and management.
  • All hours must be obtained within the 5 year period (June to June calendar year) immediately prior to when you decide to apply. 

We count up to 2000hr of work experience per year if you work full time (40 hr/wk x 50 wk/yr = 2000hr).  After you become a credentialed technician/nurse you can meet these minimum requirements if you work full time for 4 years AND spend no less than 75% of your time performing anesthesia care and case management.  If you spend less than 75% of your time performing anesthesia related duties then it will take the maximum of 5 years to complete the hour requirements.  At minimum, you MUST be performing anesthesia at least 60% of your time in the 5-year period immediately prior to applying to AVTAA in order to meet these new hour requirements. 

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 that a case log does not meet the appropriate criteria to pass.  The case selection should be varied and include ASA I-V.  The case logs should demonstrate your ability to properly manage cases with a wide variety of systemic diseases or conditions with a variety of drug protocols that are specifically chosen for the individual case.

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 advanced knowledge and skill in your case reports:

1. Show how your observations, physical examination and history taking assisted the veterinarian with the development of an anesthesia drug protocol and management plan during the procedure.

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. Briefly, 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 (anesthesia, surgery, ECC) 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 troubleshoot any problems.