How to Become a Veterinary Technician – Choosing the Career of Your Dreams

Are you an animal lover who enjoys taking care of those furry little creatures? If yes, then becoming a Veterinary Technician might be the best career option for you.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand how you can become one.

Educational Pre-Requisites

In order to make a career within this field, you should be quite skilled in general science, biology, math and basic language and communication skills.

You must start by enrolling yourself in an associate’s degree program in a good veterinarian school. This usually lasts from 16 to 24 months after which you are required to complete your four year Bachelor’s program and then a Master’s degree. However, you must ensure that your veterinary school is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). In case you don’t have one in your area, you can always opt for distant learning as well.

Apart from this, look around to gain an extensive internship or externship as that will help you get as much practical experience as you can. This will help you to get familiar with the actual working environment as well as dealing with animals.

Once you complete your studies, you also need to get certified. Certification exams vary from state to state; some certifications offered in the U.S. are for the Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) and the Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT). However, the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) is the most widely used certification required to work in a clinic.

Duties and Responsibilities

Veterinary Technicians are trained professional staff which provides assistance to veterinarians and biomedical/laboratory researchers.Some of the most common duties which you will be required to carry within this field include:

  • Obtaining and maintaining the animals’ histories
  • Administering medicines and treatments
  • Feeding and caring for the animals
  • Holding the animals when they are being checked
  • Giving pets shots or taking x-rays
  • Performing dentistry, spaying or neutering and euthanasia
  • Collecting samples, analyzing them in the lab and performing other laboratories diagnostics
  • Preparing the instruments needed for surgery
  • Working in emergency care or at a zoo if required.

Job Outlook and Salary

Usually, your level of education and the state in which you’re working are the two main aspects that directly impact your career prospects. Thus, the more educated you are, the higher you’ll be paid. However, being a Vet Tech may not offer the highest pay scale, but the job does offer a lucrative benefit package.

Generally, the average salary is approximately $29,000 a year. But if you work in a research lab, you will have more chances of earning a higher income.

Being a Veterinary Technician doesn’t provide you with the best salary package, but if you are an animal lover like me, then job satisfaction is definitely guaranteed.

Surgery Duties of a Veterinary Technician

Veterinary technicians are relied upon for helping the veterinarian to complete various surgeries. The vet tech have many tasks that are associated with the surgery process. As a veterinary technician it is important to take every step in the surgical process very seriously. Remember, that is someones pet! Vet technicians can assist the veterinarian in many different types of surgery. Some surgery may be minor, while others can be very advanced. The amount of surgery that a vet technician assists with really depends on the particular veterinarian that the vet tech works with and the type of hospital that they work in. Some hospitals strictly specialize with surgery, while other hospitals do very little surgery. Either way, it is important for the vet tech to know the steps involved with the surgical process.

Before any surgical procedure it is important for the veterinarian to examine the patient and make sure that the patient is healthy enough for surgery. Often, the veterinary technician will need to draw blood before the procedure to run basic blood chemistry levels to make sure that there is not any compromised liver or kidney function. The veterinary technician will draw the blood and run the testing before the operation. The veterinary tech may also need to use an ECG machine to check for compromised heart function. Once the preoperative work up has been completed the animal will most likely be given a preanesthetic. The technician may be instructed to give the injection or the veterinarian may give it.

After a few minutes the technician will either hold the patient for the veterinarian to place an IV catheter, or the vet tech will place the IV catheter. Once the catheter has been placed, the patient will be given the anesthetic. At this point, the patient will have an endotracheal tube placed and will be put on to an anesthetic machine. After being placed on the anesthetic machine, the veterinary technician will shave and prep the surgical area on the patient. By prepping, the vet tech will ensure that the surgical area is completely sterile using a surgical scrub solution. Once the patient has been prepped, the vet tech will help to move the patient to the surgery table. At this point the patient will be hooked up to monitoring equipment. Typical monitoring equipment reads: blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen level, ECG, and temperature. The veterinary technician will also attach and monitor IV fluids if needed.

Some surgeries may require the vet tech to scrub in and help the veterinarian with procedure. If the veterinarian can do the procedure alone, the vet tech will monitor all of the patients vitals minute to minute. The vet tech has a very important job in making sure that all of the patients vital signs stay within a normal range. It is up to the veterinary technician to alert the veterinarian of any changes and correct the anesthetic level as well as the fluid rate if needed. Keep in mind that sometimes surgery can last for several hours and will require a good amount of standing!

After the veterinarian has completed the surgery, the technician will continue to monitor the patient after the anesthetic has been cut off. Once the patient begins to awake, the technician will deflate and pull the endotracheal tube. The vet tech may also be required to administer any post-op injections or medications. The technician will also have the important job of monitoring the patient throughout the rest of their shift to make sure that the patient is doing well after the surgery.

Cleaning after surgery is another important aspect for a vet tech. Cleaning the surgical room is very important to keeping the area sterile. Most hospitals advice a “white-glove” test. Meaning, you should be able to pass a white-glove over any surface and the glove should stay white! For the vet tech this means thoroughly cleaning and mopping the entire surgery suite.

There will also be many surgical instruments (that may be bloody!) that need to be scrubbed clean, ran through an ultrasonic cleaner, and re-wrapped for the autoclave (sterilization machine). Most, if not all of these duties, will be handled by the veterinary technician. So although it seems like the veterinarian has the major job with surgical procedures, the vet tech has a large amount of work else well!

What is a Normal Day of a Vet Nurse in Veterinary Hospital?

Vet nurses are like normal nurses who take care of human. However, they are more special as they must know how to take care of many species of animals. What is it like to be a veterinary nurse in the veterinary hospital? He or she assists the veterinarians with surgical procedures, thorough examinations and administering medication.

A normal day of the animal health nurse involves performing many different tasks as assigned by the veterinarians in the hospital. The veterinarians are responsible in supervising all the activities done by the vet nurses in order to ensure that all the tasks given are done in a proper manner.

A normal day of the veterinary nurse in the hospitals involves assisting the veterinarian in carrying out the following tasks:

– Collect specimens such as urine and blood from the patients
– Conduct all types of laboratory procedures and test on the collected specimens with the necessary equipments and tools
– Provide assistance when the surgical procedures are carried out
– Obtain and record the case history of the patients
– Provide intensive care as well as emergency care to patients that admitted to the hospital
– Expose and develop radiographs
– Clean the wounds and provide injections to the animals
– Provide dental care to the animals
– Clean exam room and sterilize surgical instruments
– Do paperwork, i.e. log medications and procedures for individual patients
– Communicate with the pet owners about the health conditions of their animals
– Educate the pet owners on matters related to the nutrition and hygiene for animals and how to deal with animals’ behavior

A vet nurse plays an important role in the veterinary care team in providing quality health treatment to the animals in the hospitals.