Have you ever thought you would like to work with animals? Do you ever wonder what a veterinary technician really does behind the scenes? To an outsider, the job may look like cuddling puppies most of the day, but there is so much more happening behind the scenes. Vet techs, as well as front desk staff and exam room assistants are the gears that make a veterinary practice run smoothly. We literally could not do our jobs without any of them! Here is a rundown of the many tasks our veterinary technicians do on a daily basis to help keep your pets healthy and keep their vet visits as positive an experience as possible.
Arriving before opening time, the vet techs prepare for the day by reviewing the charts for the days scheduled visits, and set up for surgical and dental procedures. They put cozy blankets in the cages where our patients will be staying for surgery, and often draw little hearts on the cage i.d. cards to remind everyone to give extra love. Throughout the day they draw up vaccines, draw blood samples, run lab tests, and place i.v. catheters. They teach clients how to administer medications and injections, and how to use flea and tick products. They collect and test urine and fecal samples, clean cages, and do laundry. They check all the anesthesia equipment prior to every procedure, monitor and record pulse, blood pressure and respiration every 5 minutes during surgery. They sit on the floor with animals recovering from anesthesia to comfort them. They maintain and calibrate equipment, troubleshoot any issues with lab machines, x-ray equipment or computers. They clean and sanitize the exam rooms after every visit, and sterilize the surgical and dental instruments for each patient. They answer clients’ questions on the phone, call pet owners to discuss upcoming surgery, and follow up with sick patients to see if all is going well. They console and comfort clients whose pets have passed away, while quietly grieving themselves when they lose a favorite patient.
Teamwork, multi tasking, and the ability find a way to smile no matter what are the keys to success as a vet tech or vet assistant. Every day is different! You never know when a quiet day is going to bring a life-saving emergency. Days can be physically exhausting with long hours on your feet, and lifting and restraining require flexibility and fitness.
Becoming a certified veterinary technician is a challenge but is worth the effort for a rewarding career. While the majority of vet techs work in animal hospitals, they may also work in research laboratories, zoos, stables, animal shelters, pet food companies, pharmaceutical companies, and other animal- related businesses. Some specialize in areas such as anesthesia, pain management, dentistry, emergency care, and internal medicine. A veterinary technology degree can be earned through a 2 year AVMA accredited program, which includes internships and hands on training. Passing a national board exam is required for licensing or certification. Veterinary assistant courses are available through community colleges and adult education programs and can usually be completed within a few months.
So next time you take your pet to the vet, thank your vet tech and vet assistants for their education, hard work and compassion in performing a demanding job!
For more information about what it takes become a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant, visit the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America at navta.net.