By Christie Long
Although many of you work for bosses or with clients that you might sometimes characterize as rabid, I’m fairly confident that most of you don’t have a co-worker whose job description includes keeping you from getting bitten.
Oct. 12-18 has been designated as National Veterinary Technicians’ Week. It’s my chance to recognize my outstanding co-workers and thank them for doing what they do so well. But it’s also our chance as an industry to shine a spotlight on the profession and these extraordinary individuals and educate the public about the integral role they play in taking care of pets and the credentials that they worked so hard to obtain.
Most states have a designated licensed profession know as certified veterinary technician or registered veterinary technician. The requirements differ between states, but typically the laws specify what is required in the way of formal education and testing necessary to achieve the designation. In Colorado, candidates must have graduated from a veterinary technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the same organization that gives schools of veterinary medicine their accreditations. These programs include at least two years of study in the classroom and in practical settings such as in private veterinary clinics or Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Upon successful completion of the requirements of the veterinary technology program, graduates are eligible to sit for a written examination. Those who pass achieve the designation of certified veterinary technician. Colorado also recognizes those accredited under other states’ rules.
At our practice, veterinary technicians perform many functions, most of which are directly related to patient care. They work under direct supervision of a veterinarian and are responsible for carrying out the doctor’s orders with respect to all aspects of patient care. This includes giving medications to hospitalized patients; placing intravenous catheters and setting up fluids; walking, feeding and cleaning up; anesthetizing patients for surgery and monitoring their vital signs during the procedure; obtaining samples for lab work such as blood and urine; and cleaning patient’s teeth during dental cleanings. They also comfort and steady patients while I do things that require them to be still, like placing bandages or closely examining areas that might be painful.
They also interact with owners before me, obtaining a full rundown on the pet’s activities, any concerning signs that the owner has observed and the owner’s goals for the visit. This allows me to focus my energies and efforts on the pet once I am in the exam room.
My technicians keep everything flowing smoothly, keep me moving from room to room on schedule and help me feel confident that I can focus on performing a good examination on my patients without having to worry that they might decide to bite or scratch me at any moment.
If your pet has been to the veterinarian recently, chances are it has been cared for by a skilled professional. It’s a great time to say thank you to those talented, caring folks.
Christie Long is a veterinarian at the VCA Animal Hospital in Fort Collins, CO. Long left her job in software sales in 2000 to travel for 13 months. Along the way, she was touched by the plight of the animals she saw and somewhere in the Nepalese Himalayas she vowed to return to school to become a veterinarian. While she often finds end-of-life situations heart-wrenching, she considers herself blessed to be called upon as a trusted advisor to families during difficult times. Dr. Long’s family includes her husband and travel partner, Wiley, their 5-year-old son, Wiley IV, their dogs Pancake and Gizmo and cats Sneaky and Sidh.