In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, Amy Johnson, BS, LVT, RLATG, CVJ, VETgirl Manager of Content Development, highlights 10 things veterinary technicians wish everyone knew about them.
10 Things Veterinary Technicians Wished Everyone Knew About Us
Many times, we, as veterinary technicians, feel unseen. Whether it is by pet owners, the general public, our fellow veterinary teammates, or our practice management, these are 10 things that this veterinary technician wished everyone knew.
*Although some of the things on this list are more directed at the general public than those of us in veterinary medicine, it is important to reiterate it to this audience as well. We need allies from within the field to understand and empathize with what we fight daily as veterinary technicians.
We exist! Not only that, but veterinary practices could not run without us!
Clients see the front desk staff and spend time in the exam room with the veterinarians, but they may not see the work veterinary technicians are doing in “the back.” A lot of the general public has no idea who we are or what we do for their pets. They don’t know the education level we have, the credentials we hold, or what we are trained to do.
Our veterinary technician education/exams/credentialing
Credentialed veterinary technicians have gone to school, have a degree, have passed national boards (potentially state boards too), and must keep up on continuing education to retain our credentials. We know our stuff and have worked really hard for our careers!
What we vet techs can do
Veterinary technicians do not spend their day playing with puppies and kittens. What we want people to know about our days is that we work hard! We work in medicine, filled with math and science. We often hold a patient’s life in our hands. We are educated professionals who take pride in the quality of our work and knowledge base. Whether we are specialized or work in general practice, we calculate drugs, set up anesthesia machines, place intravenous catheters, run ventilators, and monitor critical patients, just to name a few of our daily tasks.
We want to be utilized as veterinary technicians
We did not go through what we did for our education to sit back and watch veterinarians do what we could be doing or to spend the day restraining. Again, we have skills! Let us do what we were trained to do. Everyone in the practice benefits from appropriate team utilization, and technicians that are appropriately utilized are more likely to stay in their positions and in the field. Want to know more about utilization, check out THIS webinar.
We suffer from the same problems veterinarians do
Suicide, compassion fatigue, burnout, high debt load, you name it – it plagues our industry. But it is not just the veterinarians that suffer. Veterinary technicians and other veterinary team members are dealing with these heavy issues too, but they are often overlooked. Veterinary staff were also included in the important Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study III here.
Our vet tech job is hard
Veterinary medicine is physically hard on your body (all that big dog lifting!) and, unfortunately, on many days, hard on your soul. Technicians are battered, bruised, scratched, and bitten. Many of us will have bad knees, backs, and shoulder injuries from restraint and lifting. But the harder part is losing our patients. We bond with these patients and their families, and when we lose them, we grieve like they were one of our own.
We are not in it for the money, but we need a living wage as veterinary technicians
We all felt a calling to this profession, and we are in it for the animals. But we have bills to pay, and we can’t survive on our love of animals alone. It is beyond frustrating to see job postings seeking people with no experience or education to make more money than we are in jobs with much less stress.
We are scared for our veterinary profession
For all of the above reasons, we are scared. Veterinary technicians are leaving the industry in droves, leaving veterinary practices understaffed. Shortages of veterinarians and veterinary technicians are making it harder for clients to get appointments, critical patients are waiting longer to be seen, and some clients are becoming more aggressive. In many instances, those that stay in the field are working harder than ever, making compassion fatigue and burnout more likely. We are spiraling and need to find a way back to balance.
We want our veterinary industry to recognize and protect us
There is so much inconsistency when it comes to veterinary technicians. Each state has different rules and regulations, not all states protect our titles, and many don’t recognize us at all in their state veterinary practice acts. There is no wonder why there is so much confusion as to who we are and what we do. We want title protection, we want a defined scope of practice, and we want consistency from state to state to eliminate confusion.
We are the voice for those that don’t have one
If you ask a veterinary technician what we do, the first thing most will tell you we are the advocates for those that don’t have a voice. We are here to care for animals and make sure they get what they need. We are monitoring pain levels and will go out of our way to make sure that all of our patients are comfortable. We are not afraid to speak up and ask questions or make suggestions when our patients are in need.
The veterinary field can be hard, but it’s what we were called to do. I can’t picture myself doing anything else.
What else do you want everyone to know? Weigh in below. And let’s lift each other up, support our veterinary colleagues, and save our veterinary profession.