Why Compassion & Empathy Are Key to Being a Vet Tech
Published on November 4, 2019 by arothstein
The most important qualification for a vet tech is to have empathy and genuine love for all animals. Any pet owner who takes their dog, cat, or other pet to the vet can appreciate the dedication and patience that the staff of the veterinary practice has. Although our pets may be affectionate at home, vet techs often get to see their other side and must be prepared.
Understanding What A Vet Tech Does
Although the initial attraction for a lot of animal lovers to become a vet tech is handling cute animals, there’s a lot more to this profession. Vet techs work with all the animals seen at their practice. Duties include everything from initial exams, handling lab tests, to assisting with surgical procedures.
A Vet Tech Provides Education and Empathy
A vet tech must be patient with animals, co-workers, and pet parents. Animals don’t understand what’s happening during an exam, and it’s up to the vet tech to be calm and reassuring. This can lessen the animal’s stress level. A vet tech that’s professional and calm can also lessen the anxiety of the owner.
A lot of pet owners forget that vet techs are animal lovers and have feelings like anyone else. When an owner doesn’t understand instructions or questions the vet tech’s ability, they may be rude and demanding. As a result, a vet tech must always have compassion and empathy for everyone they encounter in their work.
What is Compassion?
According to researchers, compassion is the feeling a person gets when they’re confronted with the suffering of another. Compassion also allows others to alleviate suffering. Compassion can be evoked by other people or animals. As a result, compassionate people go out of their way to ease the distress of another human or animal.
Although some people dismiss compassion as a weakness, there is also a biological basis for compassion. Oxytocin is a hormone that plays a significant role that helps us to bond with other people or animals. When oxytocin is secreted, the regions of the brain that associates with caregiving are affected in a positive way. As a result, our heart rate slows, making us more relaxed.
Compassion from a Pet’s Point of View
When a cat or dog is taken to the vet, they’re confused and aren’t aware of their surroundings. A lot of pets don’t like being in a car, so their stress level rises as a result. Even more, at the veterinary clinic, there are a lot of strange smells, sounds, and unfamiliar people. Because of all of these changes, the examination is often scary to pets.
When a pet owner brings an animal into a veterinary hospital, it’s important to show compassion towards their reactions–and also their owner’s. For this reason, it is vet techs must always practice empathy with clients.
The Qualities of a Compassionate Vet Tech
The vet tech that shows compassion for the animals they care for wants to alleviate the animal’s pain. The vet tech must have the skill and knowledge to calm the animal. Because of this, their education helps so that even the simplest routines are as stress-free as possible.
The qualities of a compassionate vet tech are:
Compassion is one of the most essential attributes of a vet tech who devotes their life to caring for animals.
Most pet owners think of their pets as members of the family. Because of this, when their pet isn’t feeling well, both the animal and owner needs to be comforted. Although the animal in a vet tech’s care is their first priority, the owner’s feelings should be taken into consideration.
What is Empathy?
Empathy allows you to understand what another person or animal is feeling by understanding the situation. Types of empathy may encompass a wide range of different emotional states. For example, the three types of empathy are cognitive, compassionate, and emotional.
Cognitive empathy evaluates a situation and grasps what’s happening based on your knowledge. For example, cognitive empathy comes into play based on the education and experience treating animals.
Compassionate empathy feels someone else’s pain or distress and takes actions to help them. In this case, a vet tech examines an animal and uses their education to help understand the situation. The vet tech also talks to the owner about what actions they will take to alleviate any pain, discomfort, or stress the animal experiences.
Lastly, emotional empathy refers to the personal distress a vet tech experiences as a result of what the animal and/or pet owner are experiencing. Empathy is a vital skill for vet techs, because it helps to respond and act appropriately to the situation.
How Do Compassion and Empathy Benefit a Vet Tech?
Compassion and empathy pair with excellent communication skills in a veterinary practice. Veterinary staff interactions impact the reputation of the clinic. For that reason, being a successful vet tech means communicating effectively with co-workers and pet owners.
The vet tech responds quickly to instructions from the supervising veterinarian and also ensures that all pets get the best care possible. When a vet tech gets a lot of information, it’s essential to be detail oriented. It’s equally important that the vet tech communicates with clients and relays information in a way that they understand.
Because of this connection, it’s essential for veterinary teams to learn excellent communication skills that aid in building better relationships with clients. Focusing on the feelings of the client and actively listening to their concerns can build strong relationships with clients and their pets.
Caring for Animals and Talking with Pet Owners
Most importantly, a vet tech should always keep compassion and empathy in mind when caring for an animal or discussing a pet’s condition with an owner. Unfortunately, there’s no way to control the way a client reacts to the situation. On the other hand, the vet tech can do is control how their words and actions are interpreted.
An excellent way to handle relationships with clients is to identify the type of personality they are dealing with. First, a vet tech must determine the personality type they’re dealing with. As a result, this helps with interactions, appointment management, as well as the stress level of everyone concerned.
The five types of veterinary clients are:
- The client that’s consistently late
- The complaining client
- The demanding client
- The worrier
- The saintly client
Empathy with Late Clients
It is frustrating when clients do not keep their appointments, but there is also a clever way to navigate this problem. For example, you can schedule an appointment and tell them it’s 15 to 30 minutes earlier.
Empathy with Complainers
The complainer isn’t just frustrated with the clinic. This pet parent complains about everything from the type of dog food the practice sells to the prices for services. This client just wants to have their issues validated. In order to practice empathy with this client, make sure that you are assuring that they are being listened to and give them time to ask questions.
Empathy with Demanding Clients
This type of client requires a vet tech to set boundaries. It’s difficult not to lose patience with a pet parent who demands to be seen on short notice or has specific needs. Because of this, it’s important to listen to the client’s concerns but be firm and develop a plan on how to handle demanding pet parents.
Empathy with Worriers
This client worries about seemingly normal things that their pet does. For example, a physical examination can usually alleviate the client’s worries. As trivial as it may seem, a client’s concerns should never be ignored.
Empathy with Saintly Clients
The saintly client is the type every veterinary practice wants. This pet owner never complains about waiting or has anything negative to say about the staff.
Ways a Vet Tech Can Show Compassion and Empathy to a Pet or Owner
Sometimes compassion and empathy are as effective as providing care for an owner’s pet. The diagnosis can determine the necessary treatment, but it’s also more reassuring for a pet parent when the vet tech takes the time to address their concerns.
Encourage the Pet Owner to Ask Questions
For example, some pet parents don’t know how to ask questions about pet issues. While the parent and their pet are in the examining room, a vet tech should spend a lot of time interacting with the dog or cat and ask if the parent has questions. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a pet parent to open up and discuss their concerns.
Reassure the Pet Owner
Furthermore, some clients need reassurance from someone they know that genuinely has compassion and love for animals. They may have concerns about their pet’s diet, spay or neuter, the vaccines, or training methods. As a result, empathy builds trust between the pet parent and the practice.
Want to Learn More?
Did learning about why compassion and empathy are key to being a vet tech interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.
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