October 13th - 19th, 2019 is National Veterinary Technicians' Week!
I am pretty sure that our readers understand the job description for a veterinarian, but who are all those people coming in and out of the exam rooms or who are spending time providing a high level of care for your furry friend? Chances are, you have just seen or met an amazing veterinary technician or veterinary assistant!
The easiest way to explain the role a veterinary technician plays in your pet’s healthcare is to compare the veterinarian to your doctor and the veterinary technician to your nurse. Unfortunately, the comparison is not 100% accurate as veterinary technicians are actually your pet’s nurse, anesthetist, dental hygienist, phlebotomist, radiograph technician, ultrasound technician, pharmacy technician, grief counselor, surgical scrub nurse, triage nurse, nutritional advocate, and so much more all rolled up into one person!
Credentialed veterinary technicians have attended a two-year or four-year veterinary technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. During their schooling, “vet techs” learn about the many species of animals that veterinarians will see (dogs, cats, cows, goats, horses, etc) as well as learning about pharmacology, sterile technique, advanced nursing care techniques, and anatomy, just to name a few of the classes. After school, graduates may sit for a national examination and then for a specific state test. Only by graduating school and then passing both tests may someone legally call themselves a Credentialed Veterinary Technician. You might see titles such as Registered Veterinary Technician, Licensed Veterinary Technician, Animal Health Technician, or even Certified Veterinary Technician. The only real difference is the state where the person has received their credentials.
Here's a video that might do a little better job of explaining it:
Veterinary Assistants are also vital members of the veterinary team when it comes to keeping your pet healthy. Veterinary Assistants are often on-the-job trained individuals or even someone who has completed a 6- to 12-month course and passed an examination to be titled a Certified Veterinary Assistant. In some states, like Indiana, these folks provide a very similar level of care to the clinic’s credentialed veterinary technicians but are prohibited from providing urgent/emergent medical direction/care in the absence of a veterinarian. Other states might be more lenient with their differentiation of technical staff, still others are much stricter and only allow assistants to restrain pets or do specific tasks related to pet care.
Regardless of their title, these important individuals serve as the right hand to your pet’s veterinarian. Their skills in communication and knowledge of medical topics means that you will often spend more time communicating with your pet’s nurse than you will with the veterinarian. Veterinary technicians and assistants are not simply glorified animal restrainers . . . they often will be well-versed in a wide variety of pet healthcare topics and are most dedicated to insuring that your pet is around to keep you company for as long as possible.
It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we say “THANK YOU” to these amazing veterinary technicians and assistants. You all do so much to provide the very best in care for patients and clients and it does not go unnoticed.
Dear Reader: Please take the time to say thank you to your pet’s compassionate, helpful, passionate, and talented veterinary nursing team!! We would also welcome any comments about how a veterinary technician has helped you and your furry family!