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The role of the Veterinarian Technician is varied and complicated and is very often misunderstood. Most people who bring their pets into the vets assume that they are the ones that simply do the holding while the veterinarian does the important work. Or the assumption that their jobs consist of “just playing with puppies and kittens all day”. What will surprise you is that the vet tech is a compassionate person with many skills, is extremely hardworking, and very well trained.
The vet tech is not a veterinarian in training. They have their own set of skills and have worked extremely hard to develop them. Most will go to college for two or three years to get their diploma. The skills that they have learned allows them to perform tasks that are similar to professions like a laboratory technician, paramedic, radiology technician, grief counsellor, dietician, nurse, dental hygienist, anesthesiologist and more all rolled into one on a daily basis.
Though vet techs are not allowed to make diagnoses, perform surgery or prescribe medication they are however the ones doing the “hands on” work. They are knowledgeable about a great number of drugs, how they are used and what dosages are necessary. A vet tech can do many laboratory tests such as identifying parasites on a fecal exam or looking for abnormalities on a blood smear. They can tell you what cells are normally seen on a urinalysis and which ones can be indicative of a serious problem. They can draw blood samples from patients of varying sizes, from a 150 lb great dane to a 2.5 lb kitten, who in both cases, are not always the most cooperative. They can place intravenous and urinary catheters, take x rays on patients who are not anesthetized and triage patients based on their situation.They can also apply bandages to various areas, from paws to tails, knowing the right amount of pressure to apply to make sure that the bandage does not slip. Vet techs assist in surgery and anesthesia monitoring, administer the anesthetic via intravenous injection and/or gas anesthetic allowing the veterinarian to make decisions quickly and safely.
Most importantly, vet techs are not only there for the pets but are also there for the people.They are the teachers that explain and educate clients on various situations and conditions that arise with their pets.Vet techs are there for the owners that have the sick loved ones in the hospital and just need to know that they are getting extra “cuddles and love” giving the peace of mind that they are being cared for. They are the ones that help the anxious pet parents during an emergency situation taking as much stress out of the situation as possible. They are the grief counsellors that soothe the owners in the very difficult situation of a loss of a pet. Often they are the the complaints department that deal with upset clients that have concerns about varying aspects of the hospital visit and they try to satisfy the clients the best they can. Client relations is a skill that is as important as the technical ones.
The Vet tech is a compassionate, hard working, professional. Well educated, technically skilled who has to be highly personable. The role of a veterinarian technician is challenging, exciting, emotional and as seen, very rewarding.