Why Vet Techs are the Center of Veterinary Teams
Published on February 28, 2019 by A. Rothstein
What makes a veterinary practice successful? A team of individuals who love animals and want to provide those animals with the best possible care. A successful veterinary team is a group of individuals with different training, skills, and backgrounds.
Who Makes Up the Team?
The veterinary practice team may include:
- Veterinary Assistants
- Veterinary Technicians and Specialists
- Veterinary Students
- Office Managers
- Practice Managers
The roles of each member depends on educational background and credentials. A veterinary team that functions well offers these benefits:
- Teams in veterinary practices are more effective than people who work individually
- More interaction between clients and the entire team provides better communication
- Pets get better quality healthcare when the team works together
The Center of a Quality Veterinary Team
At the center of every veterinary team are the veterinary technicians. They work closely with veterinarians, veterinary assistants, practice secretaries, other office staff and external labs.
Veterinary technicians are required to handle a wide array of tasks, depending on the number of clients and how many staff members are available daily. Multi-tasking is an asset for a veterinary technician.
The Changing Role of The Veterinarian Technician
Veterinary medicine is more sophisticated than in previous decades. Veterinary technicians also referred to as CVT’s, LVT’s, or RVT’s, are highly-skilled professionals who have the training to perform medical services in a veterinary practice.
It takes a special kind of person to be a veterinary technician. They must always be calm and relaxed in the most stressful situations; especially when animals are aggressive or scared. It’s difficult to keep from getting emotional when caring for injured animals, but the veterinary technician must remain calm and focused.
A factor to consider when working as a veterinary technician is that your schedule may include working evenings and weekends. When there’s an emergency, the veterinarian on duty needs to have staff available to assist with caring for injured or sick animals.
Veterinary Technician Specialties
Training of a veterinary technician is vital. Some opportunities for veterinary technical specialization include:
- Animal Hospitals
- Emergency Clinics
- Private Practice
- Research Facilities
- Service Dog Training Facilities
A Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) must earn credentials to work in these facilities. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes ten specialty areas that students may obtain credentials for.
A Veterinary Anesthetist administers anesthesia and analgesics to alleviate the animal’s pain during surgical procedures, while under the supervision of a veterinarian. The veterinary technician may administer doses of medication during the process and provide care for animals recovering from anesthesia.
Veterinary technicians in this field may work in zoos or sanctuaries, or with domestic pets. The focus may be on behavior, research, animal therapy, or education. Some specialists may focus on the bond between animals and humans, or domestic animal training as therapy or service dogs.
Veterinary technicians in these settings usually work with domestic pets like dogs and cats, companion, or emotional support animals.
Dental Technicians provide services to all species of animals while under the supervision of a veterinarian. They work in an animal hospital or clinic and assist veterinarians that have large or farm animal practices.
Critical and Emergency Care
Critical Care Technicians work in an emergency clinic or animal hospital. Veterinary technicians in this field also treat and observe animals with significant injuries or illnesses.
Equine Veterinary Technician Specialists focus on the wellness and dental health of horses. A certain amount of physical stamina is involved to handle horses while providing dental care.
Internal Medicine Specialists have a focus on large or small animals and choose a sub-specialty field like oncology, cardiology, or neurology.
A VTS whose specialty is nutrition cares for animals that have special nutritional needs or allergies to certain foods. They also teach owners about nutrition for various species of animals and about the food that’s best suited to specific breeds.
Surgical Veterinary Technician Specialists assist veterinarians with exams, wound care, and surgical procedures. The VTS is responsible for maintaining the surgical and recovery areas.
The veterinary technician ensures that surgical instruments and equipment are clean and ready. Other duties of the VTS are to administer medication before surgery, anesthesia during surgery, and provide post-surgical care for animals.
The VTS who is involved in zoological care of animals is a multi-faceted individual, dedicated to caring for all species of animals. They must learn about primary care, dental care, diagnostics, injuries, and assist veterinarians.
How Veterinary Technicians Work with Team Members
The veterinary technician is the heart of the medical team, especially when they’re working with a veterinarian. They may assist in surgery with anesthesia and pre-and post-surgical care. They handle lab procedures and radiology, and educate clients about pet care.
The veterinary technician is an asset to veterinary assistants who learn on the job after having some vocational training. The assistant can gain a lot of valuable experience working with a veterinary technician. The main difference between the two positions is that the veterinary technician is licensed and may have more academic training.
In a small practice, veterinary technicians may handle receptionist duties. Clients should have a favorable impression of the practice, so organizational skills are a must.
External Lab Techs
The Veterinary Technician must have knowledge of the essential tests that are performed on animals as well as the results of diagnostic tests so they can explain them to clients.
Essential Skills of Veterinary Technicians
In addition to earning a degree and formal training in the field, the soft skills of an individual that are learned through their education, life and work experience make the difference in how well they succeed. Here are some of the essential soft skills that veterinary technicians should have:
A veterinary technician must effectively instruct assistants and clients about pet’s care, especially when it comes to medications and instructions following surgery, an injury, or illness. The veterinary technician must listen to what clients and team members say to provide the best care for their pets.
Problems Solving Skills
The veterinary technician identifies problems with pets. Critical thinking is important when it comes to making decisions on how to handle a pet’s injury or illness.
Working as a team with veterinarians and assistants means coordinating efforts to provide the best care for animals, especially in emergencies.
Monitoring skills are vital during surgical procedures. The veterinary technicians must monitor heart rates, temperature, and blood pressure. They must make fast decisions to prevent complications.
Veterinary assistants see the veterinary technician as the team leader. The decisions the veterinary technician makes affects clients, their pets, and their team. The veterinary technician motivates the team, delegate responsibilities, and listens to feedback.
Everyone on the team must look up to the veterinary technician as a person they can always trust to make the best decisions for the animals in their care.
Veterinary technicians must work quickly, and multi-tasking is a keyword of the job. They may escort a client and their pet into one examining room while getting injections ready for a pet in another room. In a busy practice, the veterinary technician handles reception duties while the office staff is at lunch or otherwise unavailable.
What Veterinarians Expect of Their Veterinary Technicians
Veterinarians want veterinary technicians who work well with a team. It is also important that you work independently when necessary. The staff is expected to be professional, friendly, and compassionate with animals. In a fast-paced practice, the veterinary technician must stay relaxed and composed.
Challenges Veterinary Technicians Face
A veterinary technician’s job is always challenging. Veterinary technicians have an opportunity to interact with and care for different species of animals and make a difference in the lives of animals.
Did learning about veterinary teams 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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