December 2022

In this VETgirl blog, Tiffany Gendron, CVT, VTS (ECC) talks about finding your joy in veterinary medicine, which may include veterinary technician specialization. Find out more about her story and what it can mean to you.

Professional Growth of the Veterinary Technician

by Tiffany Gendron, CVT, VTS (ECC)

Being a veterinary technician is arguably the best profession, with limitless opportunities for growth. When I think back to vet tech school, I didn’t have this same perspective. I envisioned a veterinarian technician as someone on the floor working in a hospital or hospital-like setting such as a general practice, a shelter, or in a zoo. At some point in your education or career you may start to contemplate your professional growth opportunities. What often sparks the desire for professional growth is to improve one’s knowledge base and skill set, which can lead to your ability to improve the quality of care for your patients and professional fulfillment.

The landscape of the veterinary industry has changed vastly. For this reason, many opportunities that weren’t available to the veterinary technician years ago are presenting themselves as new opportunities for industry growth. My job with VETgirl is a perfect example of a job opportunity that was not something I was thinking about as an option when I was in vet tech school.

Some career paths that were on my radar as a veterinary technician include:

Other considerations for professional growth include pursuing leadership roles, becoming a certified veterinary practice manager (CVPM), or a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). The options are endless, and as the landscape of veterinary medicine continues to evolve, so do the opportunities for the veterinary technician.

In my opinion, the most important thing that you need to consider is what is it that brings you happiness. There are a multitude of career choices available as a veterinary technician, but the first step to determining what you’re going to be happiest doing is figuring out what brings you joy. Easier said than done! When you’re new in the field, EVERYTHING is exciting, and you want to do it ALL, so my advice to you is do just that! Don’t rush into a decision and explore your options. See what really sparks your interest.

What is my story?

There I was bright-eyed entering the workforce as a newly credentialed veterinary nurse, excited, energized, and quite frankly, nervous about my first job as a credentialed veterinary nurse. I was working in a small animal emergency and referral hospital in both the critical care unit and in the cardiology department. I was honored to put that uniform on! I had no prior experience in emergency or critical care but had spent 2 years in cardiology. However, it did not take long for me to recognize the passion that I had for both disciplines and my desire to learn. I was energized by the staff, the veterinary specialist teams, the cases, and the learning culture of the hospital. Within six months I had decided that I was going to consider becoming a veterinary technician specialist (VTS). How did I know if this was for me? I had to ask myself some key questions:

  1. Why do you want to specialize?
  2. What discipline do I want to specialize in?
  3. Is this possible for me in my current role?

Why do I want to specialize?

  • I wanted to gain a better understanding of the medicine, the disease processes, and the why behind initiating a treatment plan.
  • I wanted to be a better patient advocate by having the knowledge base and skill set to improve the care the patient received.
  • To perform advanced nursing skills and be assigned to the most critical cases.
  • Having a deeper knowledge base improves nursing efficiency. You can use your critical thinking skills to understand what treatments should be done, what diagnostics must be performed, and how to better monitor a patient based on their clinical status.

What discipline do I want to specialize in?

  • I wanted to specialize in Emergency and Critical Care

Was it possible?

A VTS applicant must:

  • Graduate from an AVMA-accredited college and/or be legally credentialed in their state
  • Must successfully complete the training, education, and experience requirements for the respective academy
  • Must be reviewed and approved by the specialist academy

Anything is possible if you want it! However, each academy has its own requirements  that you should first make yourself aware of as part of your consideration process.  Understanding the academy requirements prior to a commitment will help you create your career “roadmap.”

Specializing is a great option, but specializing is not for everyone. This process requires the applicant to take full control of the process by meeting the requirements of their specified academy and required deadlines. The VTS application process requires the applicant to dedicate the time (3-5 years, depending on the academy) to the application process, follow the outlined guidelines, create study guides/habits, and seek mentorship through areas such as Facebook groups and or mutual connections.

My advice for you…

  • Be sure you can commit the time and energy to make this a meaningful experience that will benefit you.
  • Involve your leadership team and get the support of your employer to help you with attaining your goals.
  • If you work at a hospital that hosts internships and or residency programs, ask for permission to be involved with case discussions and rounds. Or work part time where this is possible.

Lastly, remember your in charge of your own happiness do what makes you happy not what gives you clout.

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