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Veterinary Technicians: So Much More Than Nurses

Posted 10.15.15 by Kassie Newton, DVM

Have you ever wondered,”What does it take to be a veterinary technician?” Have you ever thought it would be fun to play with puppies and kittens all day? Well, that’s what a lot of people think that we do in veterinary offices, but that is far from the truth.

Yes, we do get to see puppies and kittens and trust us, it’s the highlight of our day. However, there is so much more.

The veterinary technician is the first person that will come into the room and talk with you when you come to the office for a visit. They are generally described as the “nurses” of veterinary medicine; however, they are so much more. Most nurses in the human medical field will specialize – they are an oncology nurse, a scrub nurse, a surgical nurse, an ER nurse, a phlebotomist, etc. While qualified in all areas, they generally learn the specific practices for whatever field they enter and learn precisely how to do the tasks involved with that specialty. To run a floor on a human hospital you also have a lot of other personnel – the cleaning crew, the laundry crew, the cooks and cafeteria workers, the lab specialists, and floor managers to name a few. However- did you know that the veterinary technicians take on all of these jobs everyday? Yep, they do it all.

Let me list a few of the tasks an average day will hold for a vet tech:

  • Getting history from owners
  • Client education
  • Holding animals during exams
  • Drawing blood and fecal samples
  • Placing catheters
  • Pulling up vaccines
  • Cleaning up messes (trust me, this could be a full time job in itself!)
  • Feeding and walking animals
  • Running laboratory tests
  • Preparing surgery
  • Monitoring anesthesia
  • Performing dental cleanings
  • Taking x-rays
  • Administering fluids
  • Entering records
  • Making phone calls
  • Filling and giving medications
  • Cleaning/dusting/mopping/trash collecting
  • Training new people
  • And perhaps the most difficult – babysitting the doctors

Wow! That’s a lot. And trust me, the list is a lot longer.

As doctors, we would be completely lost without our technicians. We literally couldn’t do our jobs without them. They are oftentimes two steps ahead of us, they are constantly cleaning up after us, and they keep us on task when we are juggling multiple different cases and rooms at a time. We expect a lot out of them and not only do they deliver on a daily basis, but they do it with a smile and an amazing attitude.

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So what does it take to become a technician?

First and foremost, an intense love for animals. You have to be passionate about what you do, because this is a tough job. Second, you cannot be afraid to get dirty. Unfortunately this job isn’t the cleanest – by the end of the day we will commonly have medicine, blood, disinfectant, and who knows what else on our clothes. Third, the ability to work hard and expect to be challenged on a daily basis. This is a job where you are constantly learning new things and tasks to perform. You have to think on your feet and jump in during an emergency with no fear. And lastly, the ability to go home at the end of the day knowing you made a difference in the world.

This week is National Veterinary Technician Week. Please take the time to thank the veterinary technicians at your vet office. They work very hard to love and care for your animals!

Written by: Dr. Kassie Newton

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