What A Vet Tech Is
What is the definition of a vet tech?
The technical definition of a vet tech is a veterinarian’s assistant, trained to provide medical care for animals, as performing diagnostic tests or administering vaccines and medication. This is a very simplistic definition because we know that a vet tech is so much more.
What does a vet tech do?
What a vet tech does from day to day can vary with each hospital. Some hospitals (like ours) are very tech driven. What does this mean? It means that our technicians do everything they can for the patient that does not require the doctor. This means that in most instances the technician is taking care of your pet from start to finish in all aspects except the physical exam, diagnosis and surgical procedure.
A good example of this is appointments, it is the technician who collects the patient history; starts the medical note; collects vitals on your pet; collects samples to include blood, feces and urine; and prepares your estimates and invoices. After your appointment it is your technician who sends your pet’s medical notes to you by email and sometimes it is a technician who calls to check on your pet the next day after his or her appointment.
Here are just a few of the skills our vet techs must have to do their jobs.
- Place intravenous catheters
- Intubate patients (undergoing anesthetic procedures)
- Surgical prep, assisting and monitoring
- Properly take radiographs
- Perform full-mouth dental radiographs
- Probe teeth, perform dental charting
- Scale and polish teeth
- Clean and bandage wounds
- Bandage or splint sprains and broken bones
- Care for hospitalized patients
Vet techs wear many hats
Our technicians serve as a doctor’s assistant, a phlebotomist, a pharmacy technician, a dental hygienist, a surgical technician/scrub nurse, an x-ray technician, a laboratory technician, a soft lap for patients, a warm embrace for owners and a shoulder to cry on for co-workers.
Please never underestimate the knowledge, years of schooling and experience, compassion and passion that go into being a vet tech. Our vet techs are not doctors, they are not supposed to be. They are in most cases able to help you understand what is going on with your pet. If they don’t know an answer, they will find the answer for you.
A day in the life of a vet tech
A day in the life of a vet tech is never the same from one day to the next. We never know what kind of emergency may walk through our door, consequently the element of surprise is always looming.
Even though we operate on a schedule, unexpected things happen throughout the day that change the course of our schedule and sometimes the entire day. This means that a vet tech has to be prepared for anything and be flexible enough to change course at a moment’s notice.
A vet tech’s work is very physical. Vet techs do a lot of standing. Their whole shift is spent on their feet plus there is a lot of bending, squatting and lifting involved. You can imagine that by the end of the day our techs leave pretty tired.
Even though they may be tired, most of the time our techs leave feeling fulfilled. This is because many technicians are following a calling that they have felt since they were kids, to help animals. If you are interested in finding out what it takes to become a licensed veterinary technician (LVT) in Texas you can visit this website to learn more.
What about the emotional toll?
All veterinary workers get asked about the emotional toll of our jobs. The answer is yes, there is always an emotional toll when working in veterinary medicine. As a consequence of working so closely with and caring so much for our patients, it is difficult to watch them grow over the years and then assist with their death. Our vet techs help the veterinarian this final time as they watch the tears fill the eyes of their human family.
Most people think euthanasia is the hardest part about being a vet tech. The reality is that the sharpness of the emotion dulls somewhat over time. You end up feeling lucky to be able to release painful or diseased bodies from their earthly constraints.
Being a vet tech means advocating for your patient
We define roles at our hospital based on who you as an employee advocate for. Our Client Relations Specialists advocate for our clients; our doctors advocate for the client and the patient; and our vet techs’ job is to advocate for their patients.
Vet techs are the voice for your pet when it comes to matters of well-being, especially when they are caring directly for your pet. If your dog needs more pain control after surgery, it is the vet tech who will notify the doctor. If your pet is too anxious to complete his or her appointment without coming back on medication, it is the vet tech who will advocate for your pet’s well-being.
Saying no is hard
Advocating for your pet can sometimes lead our vet techs to send you to an emergency room. Why? The reason is simple. At Hill Country Animal Hospital, we have a standard for the medicine we practice. What this means is that our doctors and nurses have a limit as to how many patients they can see each day. If we go beyond that we run the risk of compromising the care we provide and we are not willing to do that.
When one of our technicians advises you to go to an emergency hospital, it is because she wants what is best for your pet at that moment. Sometimes this means that we have reached the limit of how many pets we can provide care for in a day. Additionally, it may be in your pet’s best interest to go to an emergency hospital so that overnight care can be provided.
Either way, please understand that we always have your pet’s best interest in mind. While we would love to see all of our patients whenever they need us, we simply can’t be everything to everyone all the time, and we all need time off to recharge.
We hope that you understand that vet techs are smart, capable and most of all that they are people just like you. They deserve your respect. Vet techs are brave and hard-working and will care for your pet as if it is their own. Join us in being thankful for vet techs.