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  • Office of Rep. Hayes

More Opportunities for Large Animal Veterinarians

House File 670, which passed the House this week, proposes some changes to Iowa’s regulations on the practice of veterinary medicine. In the wake of a shortage of large animal veterinarians in our agriculturally focused state, this legislation seeks to address some key points of the issue.

Why does Iowa lack large animal veterinarians, especially in rural areas? Based on research from Iowa State University, some factors could include long hours, emergency duties, or lack of time off. Large animal veterinary work includes much more intense physical labor than a regular clinical practice, and many students who grew up on Iowa farms want to try something new and different when they graduate college. There is also a perception that rural veterinary practice will pay significantly less, but the data from this research shows that, at the time of writing, close to 80% of Iowa veterinary clinics were offering a starting salary of at least $70,000 a year. Another factor considered was the draw of a city or suburb lifestyle as opposed to a rural lifestyle.

Under current law, a person may not practice veterinary medicine in the State unless the person is a licensed veterinarian or has a valid temporary permit issued by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. The Board issues certificates to veterinary medicine students who have been certified by an instructor to practice veterinary medicine. In addition, a veterinary assistant employed by a licensed veterinarian may be certified to practice veterinary medicine, except for diagnosing,

prescribing, or performing surgery, if the veterinary assistant has met educational, experience, and testing requirements established by the Board.

The bill proposes that a licensed veterinarian may act as a supervising veterinarian exercising differing levels of supervision according to rules determined by the Board based on the situation and personnel. The veterinary auxiliary personnel category would include (1) a registered veterinary technician who has graduated from an accredited veterinary technology program, received a passing score on a national veterinarian technician examination, and is issued a certificate of registration by the board; (2) a veterinary technician student attending an accredited technology program; (3) a veterinary assistant subject to qualifications established by the board; (4) a veterinary student attending an accredited college of veterinary medicine; and (5) a graduate of a foreign college of veterinary medicine.

HF670 also proposes a few language changes, including changes to the definition of “practice of veterinary medicine” to include veterinary acupuncture, acutherapy, acupressure, manipulative therapy based on techniques of osteopathy and chiropractic medicine, or other similar therapies as specified by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. This definition excludes any form of animal massage. It also expands the definition of “livestock” to include flocks of poultry.

In conclusion, this legislation seeks to fill some of the gaps in the need for large animal vets in rural Iowa by expanding the scope of those allowed to practice under the supervision of a licensed veterinary professional. As always, I welcome comments, questions, and feedback from my constituents. You are welcome to email me at or leave a message for me on the Capitol switchboard at 515.281.3221.

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