Celebrating Our Vet Techs

Can you believe we are in October, folks?  I guess technically I have no concept of time other than “time to eat”, “time to eat”, “time for treats”, and then “time to eat.”  This is also the month when I have to endure unnecessary torture.  My staff finds pleasure in dressing  me up in what you refer to as “clothes”.  Usually it’s something awful on my head, a “costume” I believe is the name, and it makes me look handsomely ridiculous.  (Cause let’s face it, I’m always handsome…) 

First things first, Halloween is right around the corner.  I am of the understanding that you two-legged varieties choose this day to go to other two-leggeds’ homes and rob them of their treats.  I personally find this to be a barbaric ritual, as I am very protective of my treats but I guess it works for you humans!  That being said, keep any candy or other “human treats” out of your pet’s reach.  Same goes for decorations; I know we felines like to play with things that we are not supposed to and dogs like to eat things they’re not supposed to, so be extra careful!  I know I had briefly gone over this in my last blog but I just needed to reiterate with three big holidays coming up!

So now I wanted to talk a little bit about National Veterinary Technician Week, an annual event since 1993, which ran from October 14-20.  Although we appreciate our technicians every day, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, Inc. (NAVTA) wanted to recognize those special people who work together with veterinarians to try to keep your pet healthy and happy.  NAVTA  (incorporated in 1981) is a non-profit organization that proudly represents  veterinary technicians  while  educating  and providing support to the profession. 

Our lovely LVT’s are:  Jennifer Keane, Renee Small, Beth Lannon, Denise Sanchez, Cara Scarano, Bernadette Ortiz and Mary Portelly.  I have intermewed one of those fabulous techs, Cara, to learn a little bit more about her job. (I know, I’m very intelligent already but believe it or not I don’t know everything…)

Mason the cat with Vet

MASON:  What is the job of a veterinary technician?

CARA:  Veterinary technicians do a wide variety of jobs. These duties can include drawing blood and ordering lab tests, reading slides and samples under the microscope, taking X-rays  of sick and injured animals, giving injections and vaccinations, placing IV catheters to aid in the administration of fluids and anesthetics, inducing general anesthesia and assisting doctors in surgery, performing dental cleanings on anesthetized pets, changing bandages and splints, and most importantly, educating  owners on how to best care for their pets both preventively and once medical conditions have been diagnosed by a doctor.

MASON:  Do all veterinary technicians have to go to school for this job?

CARA:  The short answer is no. Some technicians have hands on training, and are taught to the specific standards of their employer. These technicians, or “techs” for short, may have similar duties to that of a licensed veterinary technician, or LVT.  What a ‘tech” can do does vary from state to state and from clinic to clinic. Here at Great Falls Animal Hospital, we refer to non- licensed employees as assistants.

The only way to obtain the title of LVT is by completing a degree program at an AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accredited school. Upon graduation of the scholastic program, which usually lasts 2 to 4 years, a student is then allowed to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam. This test requires a satisfactory passing score, and in Virginia, can only be taken by graduates of a Veterinary Technician Program. Once these two requirements have been met, a person can then apply to their state Department of Health for their license.

MASON:  What part of your job is most rewarding?  (Mine is treats!)

CARA:  I really enjoy both helping animals and working with their owners.  The human-animal bond is so amazing and never fails to touch my heart. Whether it is a small child learning love, compassion, responsibility and patience through pet ownership or an elderly person who relies on their dog to get them out of the house and walking on a daily basis, this bond and relationship cannot be denied.

MASON:  What advice do you have for someone who may be interested in the veterinary profession?

CARA:  First, get involved. There are so many great clinics and organizations in the area that need help. You don’t need to have experience, just a strong interest and willingness to learn. People should also remember that though that this field is very rewarding, it is not “just playing with kittens and puppies.” There is a lot of cleaning and less-than- glamorous work that needs to be done to keep our patients comfortable and well-cared for.  Cases and patients can be challenging and don’t always have the outcomes we hope they will.  I find that spending time with animals and their owners even during the most difficult times still has its own personal rewards.  Because of that, I cannot imagine doing anything else!

Until next time,

blue paw print