National Veterinary Technician Week


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Here’s who made veterinarians make it through the pandemic – veterinary technicians/nurses and vet assistants. October 16 to 22 is National Veterinary Technician Week.

In typical day – even a typical hour – certified, registered or licensed technicians/nurses may serve as a radiologists by handling X-rays (and keep in mind not all pets are not so cooperative about being X-Rayed); techs offer nutrition and behavior advice to pet parents; they describe how to give medication to a pet who might not want it, and explain how to use products; run lab tests; assist the veterinarian in handling animals; assisting in surgery, including the administration and monitoring of anesthesia. And when hospitalized and a dog needs to go potty, guess who brings the plastic bag along for the walk? Or who during the pandemic (and sometimes even now) goes to the parking lot in the rain or snow to fetch a pet?

And imagine having to euthanize animals over and over and over.  Human doctors and nurses don’t have to do this. Absolutely, euthanizing an animal may be the right thing to do for the animal. However, the emotional toll on veterinary professionals can be significant. After all, some of these animals have been known to the veterinary staff for years, since they were puppies or kittens. Still it’s the technicians who console families.

Certainly veterinarians don’t go into the professional to get rich quick. But talk about only being devoted to the animals, whether they’re working in private practice with dogs and cats or even in a zoo setting or elsewhere certified, licensed and registered technicians make, on-average, approximately $32K to $37K annually.

True this can be a good job for some able to (based on their needs) work part time with varied hours. However, as a full-time profession the expertise, hard work and emotional toll arguably don’t match the salary. And going to vet tech school will cost anywhere from at least $4K to $15K per year and at least double that for a four-year degree. Some states forbid non-credentialed technicians to work at a veterinary hospital, which makes the requirement for school (and debt) unavoidable for many. Elsewhere, employers give preference to technicians with formal education, as that appropriately signals a commitment to learning and the profession.

Also, technicians are the primary communicators in veterinary medicine. Sometimes clients are too intimidated speaking to their veterinarian, or the vet may simply not have the time to explain house training 101 or how to give a cat a pill, or to jump on a virtual follow-up call. The vet techs offer the comprehensive medical explanations and with unmatched compassion, such as describing what it means that your cat is diabetic and how to administer insulin or explain Cushing’s Disease in a dog.

You might think that the average technician requires cloning to get it all done, particularly post-pandemic as there is a record number of pets wanting to see a veterinarian and simultaneously an employment shortage.

Pretty clearly the veterinary profession could not exist without veterinarians but mostly clients don’t realize that the backbone of professional truly are veterinary technicians/nurses and vet assistants