What Does a Vet Tech Do
The first step for any prospective Veterinary Technicians is undoubtedly to ask, “What does a Vet Tech Do?” When seeking to learn the answer to this question, learners should inquire about the day-to-day responsibilities in this career in healthcare from those already employed in this occupation.
When asked about their healthcare careers, most Vet Techs will elaborate on how their role involves the observance of animals. Whether large for small, watching an animal that is currently in veterinary care can yield important information regarding their behaviors or conditions. Observance will also help a Veterinary Technician and their supervising Veterinarian to determine if an animal is experiencing any adverse effects due to a procedure or from medication.
Additionally, Veterinary Technicians are tasked with providing nursing care and emergency first aid to animals if and when they are brought into a clinic severely ill or injured. Under these circumstances, they may also need to restrain an animal for examination or sedation purposes. Vet Techs might further need to administer medications, vaccines, treatments or anesthesia, followed by a period of monitoring the animal’s response.
In more common everyday work, Veterinary Technicians will clips nails, cut claws, brush fur and bathe their animal patients. Conducting a variety of clinical and laboratory procedures, including postoperative care, dental care and specialized nursing care, are other elements of this medical career. These procedures may involve taking x-rays, collecting blood samples, taking urinalysis tests and performing other types of laboratory work.
While much of their work involves first-hand involvement with animal patients, other responsibilities are more clinical. For example, Veterinary Technicians will collect patient histories and document all findings and diagnoses. Preparing instruments and equipment for surgeries or other procedures may be asked of a Veterinary Technician as well.
A Day in the Life
On any given day in a career as a Veterinary Technician, professional can expect to experience some level of regularity. This means they develop a routine involving patient checks, clerical tasks and procedure preparation.
For example, during any given day a Veterinary Technician will enter their practice or clinic and check on all the animal patients. Depending on the patients, the Vet Tech will need to take some animals out to relieve themselves. After finishing their morning rounds, these veterinary professionals will be briefed on the surgeries and procedures to take place throughout that day.
Equally as important, they will be made aware of the cases that will involve anesthesia, and the patients that will need monitored for reactions from the anesthesia afterward. They will further help prep for surgeries and procedures by sterilizing and readying tools and instruments to be used by the Veterinarian. The Vet Tech might also be asked to take preliminary x-rays, or to take images through a scope with a camera attached.
Standing in on these procedures, Vet Techs will equip themselves will face masks, hairnets and surgical booties to keep the surgical suite sterile. They will also measure oxygenation levels, preparing syringes, draw blood, calculate fluid rates and take other vitals as needed. As the procedure progresses, the supervising Veterinarian may need their Veterinary Technician to adjust the overhead light, update them on patient vitals, hand them instruments and adjust the animal patient’s position.
Once a procedure has been completed, the Veterinary Technician may be tasked with bandaging wounds or incisions. Lastly, they will complete any workday by entering notes and records from that day’s patients and procedures into a computer using electronic health record applications. Overall, Vet Techs wear many hats each day at work!
When in pursuit of information regarding a Veterinary Technician career, another excellent and informational resources is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA is a not-for-profit association representing more than 93,000 veterinary professionals working in private and corporate practice, government, industry, academia and uniformed services. Acting as a collective voice for its membership and for the profession, the AVMA is committed to advancing the shared interests, values and goals of its membership.
In doing just that, the organization develops positions on key issues and advocates for Veterinary Technicians hoping to advance their practice and services. Equally as important, the AVMA diligently strives to educate the public and those interested in entering the veterinary technology field on the varied types of work that veterinary professionals do to advance both animal and human health. In their efforts to provide this information, the AVMA provides educational and certification program to help those interested in this career to elevate their understanding of the field.
In addition, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) is an organization dedication to retrieving input from industry Vet Techs to understand the national perspective on veterinary-related issues. Through the group’s efforts, they have introduced National Veterinary Technician Week, formed the Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties and the development of a scholarship program. The NAVTA makes community blogs and articles available to those interested in the content as well.
How to Enter the Field
After learning what a Veterinary Technician does each day, the first step to entering this career in veterinary medicine is to find the most appropriate educational program to meet a learners needs. This can involve factoring in elements such as a programs location, teaching methodologies, price and credentials. There are numerous programs available throughout the United States, and this number is only increasing given the strong outlook for this career over the next decade. Check out this national Vet Tech career outlook!
Prospective Vet Techs should seek to find educational programs which are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. This will help them upon seeking employment opportunities down the road, and will ensure that the program’s faculty are licensed and have significant experience. (Note: There are even distance education programs available which are accredited by the AVMA!)
While most Vet Tech programs result in either a 2-year associate’s degree in veterinary technology, there are a few 4-year bachelor’s degree programs in veterinary technology as well. What do Vet Tech programs teach? Once the learner selects a program that best meets their needs, can expect to take classes including biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, basic animal care and anesthesia training. They will also learn about animal diseases, pathology and pharmaceuticals.
In combination with clinical laboratory experience, a veterinary technology program will provide students with the information, skills and experience necessary for them to succeed on their own within the field. In the case of some programs, externships are considered to be an additional element of the comprehensive learning experience. They will further enable the student to begin networking and making professional connections across the industry. Forming professional relationships can be one of the best ways to locate opportunities, be connected with hiring managers and to navigate ways to essentially get their foot in the door at reputable clinics and facilities.
Lastly, after completing the number of required credits and clinical hours, prospective Vet Techs will need to pass a credentialing exam and become registered, licensed or certified (depending on the state in which they intend to practice). Most state and provincial agencies use the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), which is offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, to evaluate the competency of entry-level Veterinary Technicians and require a passing score for a veterinary technician to be credentialed. For specific credential information, prospective Vet Techs should contact their state or provincial agency.
Ultimately, now is a great time to consider entering a career in healthcare as a Veterinary Technician! This career is something to be proud of. If you aspire to work in healthcare, help make a difference in animals lives and constantly keep learning and evolving as a professional, you will love a career in veterinary medicine!
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook
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