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Nebraska Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians

Under Nebraska law, provisions relating to regulation of veterinarians are provided under R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3301 through R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3334.

Board of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery.

The board of veterinary medicine and surgery shall consist of five members, including three licensed veterinarians, one licensed veterinary technician, and one public member[i].  The purpose of the board is to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens; insure that veterinarians meet minimum standards of proficiency and competency; insure that schools of veterinary medicine and surgery qualify students to serve the public in a safe and efficient manner; and control the field of veterinary medicine and surgery in the interest of consumer protection[ii].

Pursuant to R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3312, the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery means:

  • To diagnose, treat, correct, change, relieve, or prevent animal disease, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical or mental conditions, including the prescription or administration of any drug, medicine, biologic, apparatus, application, anesthetic, or other therapeutic or diagnostic substance or technique, and the use of any manual or mechanical procedure for testing for pregnancy or fertility or for correcting sterility or infertility. The acts described in this subdivision shall not be done without a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship;
  • To render advice or recommendation with regard to any act described above;
  • To represent, directly or indirectly, publicly or privately, an ability and willingness to do any act described above; and
  • To use any title, words, abbreviation, or letters in a manner or under circumstances which induce the belief that the person using them is qualified to do any act described above[iii].

According to R.R.S. Neb. § 71-8908, Veterinarian-client-patient relationship means a relationship pursuant to which (1) a veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of an animal and the need for medical treatment and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions, (2) the veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal, meaning that the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal by virtue of an examination of the animal or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept, and (3) the veterinarian is readily available or has arranged for emergency coverage and for followup evaluation in the event of adverse reactions or the failure of the treatment regimen.

A licensed veterinarian acting within the scope of practice of his/ her profession is not required to be licensed under the Veterinary Drug Distribution Licensing Act regulating the distribution and sale of veterinary legend drug[v].

Licensure Requirements

Only a licensed person can practice veterinary medicine and surgery in Nebraska. Licensed veterinarian means a person who is validly and currently licensed to practice veterinary medicine and surgery in Nebraska[vi].  However, the Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Practice Act does not prohibit:

  • An employee of the federal, state, or local government from performing his/her official duties;
  • A student in a veterinary school or an approved veterinary technician program from performing duties or actions assigned by his/her instructors or from working under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian;
  • Any merchant or manufacturer from selling feed or feeds whether medicated or nonmedicated;
  • A veterinarian regularly licensed in another state from consulting with a licensed veterinarian in Nebraska;
  • Any merchant or manufacturer from selling from his/ her place of business medicines or other products used in the prevention or treatment of animal diseases or any merchant or manufacturer’s representative from conducting educational meetings to explain the use of his/her products;
  • An owner of livestock or a bona fide farm or ranch employee from performing any act of vaccination, surgery, pregnancy testing, or the administration of drugs in the treatment of domestic animals under his or her custody or ownership;
  • A member of the faculty of a veterinary school or veterinary science department from performing his/her regular functions, or a person lecturing or giving instructions or demonstrations at a veterinary school or veterinary science department or in connection with a continuing competency activity;
  • Any person from selling or applying any pesticide, insecticide, or herbicide;
  • Any person from engaging in bona fide scientific research which reasonably requires experimentation involving animals;
  • Any person from treating or in any manner caring for domestic chickens, turkeys, or waterfowl, which are specifically exempted from the Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Practice Act or from performing dehorning or castrating livestock, not to include equidae.
  • Any person who holds a valid credential in Nebraska in a health care profession or occupation regulated under the Uniform Credentialing Act from consulting with a licensed veterinarian or performing collaborative animal health care tasks on an animal under the care of such veterinarian if all such tasks are performed under the immediate supervision of such veterinarian[vii]

Each applicant must be a graduate of an accredited school of veterinary medicine or holds an equivalent educational qualification certificate issued by an entity approved by the board.  Accredited school of veterinary medicine means an institution approved by the board which is a veterinary college or division of a university or college that offers the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or its equivalent.  In addition, such institution must conform to the standards required for accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association[viii].  Further, the applicant must pass an examination approved by the board[ix].  Any person holding a valid license to practice veterinary medicine and surgery in Nebraska on October 23, 1967, is recognized as a licensed veterinarian and is entitled to retain such status so long as he/she complies with the Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Practice Act and the provisions of the Uniform Credentialing Act relating to veterinary medicine and surgery[x].

An applicant for a license based on a license in another state or territory of the U.S. or a Canadian province have to be actively engaged in the practice of such profession at least one of the three years immediately preceding the application under a license in such another state or territory[xi].

Discipline of veterinarians

The board may deny, refuse to renew, limit, revoke or suspend a license of an applicant or licensee for any of the following reasons:

  • Fraud or dishonesty in the application or reporting of any test for disease in animals;
  • Failure to keep veterinary premises and equipment in a clean and sanitary condition;
  • Failure to report, as required by law, or making false report of, any contagious or infectious disease;
  • Dishonesty or gross negligence in the inspection of foodstuffs or the issuance of health or inspection certificates; or
  • Cruelty to animals[xii].

Unless required by law for contagious or infectious disease reporting, no licensed veterinarian, his employees or agents are required to disclose any information concerning the veterinarian’s care of an animal except under a written authorization or other waiver by the veterinarian’s client or pursuant to a court order or a subpoena.  A veterinarian who releases information in such manner is not liable to the client or any other person.  The privilege provided by this section is waived to the extent that the veterinarian’s client or the owner of the animal places the veterinarian’s care and treatment of the animal at issue in any civil or criminal proceeding[xiii].

In addition, a veterinarian who violates the provisions of the Act will be subject to a civil penalty of not less than 1,000 dollars nor more than 5,000 dollars for the first offense and not less than 5,000 dollars nor more than 10,000 dollars for the second or subsequent offense.  A continuing violation after notification constitutes a separate offense[xiv].

[i] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3319.

[ii] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3320.

[iii] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3312.

[iv] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3316.

[v] R.R.S. Neb. § 71-8912.

[vi] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3310.

[vii] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3321.

[viii] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3303.

[ix] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3322.

[x] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3323.

[xi] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3327.

[xii] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3324.

[xiii] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3330.

[xiv] R.R.S. Neb. § 38-3331.

Inside Nebraska Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians