Thursday, January 31, 2013

How To: Become A Veterinary Technician

What is a Vet Tech (Technician):
A veterinary staff member who is the nurse and main aide to the veterinarian. Expect to also do job duties similar to that of a radiologist, surgical assistant, pharmacy assistant, and dental hygienist but for animals.

The parts I love the most:

  • Saving lives!!!
  • Learning all I can about animals! I am a sponge for animal knowledge so I hope you are too!
  • Being around animals and helping them.
  • Educating pet parents so they know how to be a better pet owner and the lives of their pets are better because I educated their humans about them. For example: Nail trims, flea preventatives, understanding how to leash walk, what to purchase to brush their pet, good foods vs not so good foods, the list goes on and on.

Signs this job is for you:
Dissection in science class was your favorite part.
Giving your dog a bath and not caring how hairy or gross you got from it.
You do well in emergency situations.
You love playing with a microscope.
Loving a fast paced environment and keeping busy.
You would rather have a standing job then sit at a desk all day.
Wearing the least amount of jewelry and make up for job hazards is fine with you.

Signs this job is NOT for you:
You cannot stand the sight of a pet in pain.
You cannot stand smelling dog poop, vomit, yeast, anal glands, ect.
You cannot stand to poke a pet with a needle and cause it pain.
Seeing people crying makes you very uncomfortable.
You would be comfortable sitting for the majority if not all of the day.
Looking good and wearing a lot of make up is a must.
You tend to shut down in emergencies and the sight of animal blood grosses you out.

(Sometimes people can do animal nursing jobs but not human nursing jobs or visa versa).

Strong subjects in high school:
Science: Zoology, Biology


(My old teacher used to say wrestling would be a good sport to pursue because you are constantly restraining animals and having to 'win' the wrestling match between you and the animal).

Jobs to look for in high school:
Pet store employee
Kennel staff

Volunteer work to look for in high school:
Pet therapy at a nursing home (I did this for three years with my pet rabbit!! LOVED IT)
Pet rescue/shelter helper

Programs and Schools:
I would suggest to not do a online veterinary tech program. I have never heard of anyone having good luck with them. It's hard to learn from this since they are so hands on. I have heard that the online program requires you to go to a vet to do the hands off parts but that is only good if you are already employed by a veterinary office.
Search for a well rounded AVMA accredited veterinary program. Research how long the program has been around, the staff, and graduation/passing boards rates are.

How To Be A Vet Tech?

Everyday duties:
Cleaning instruments
Taking x-rays
Restraining pets
Cleaning up poop, pee, vomit, ect ect!!! Be prepared for nasty smells all day everyday!!!
Nail Trims
Express anal glands
Blood draws/IV Catheters
Cleaning sinks, gowns, counters.
Dental cleanings
Listening and taking notes from clients about their pets.
Creating invoices and taking payments
Cleaning kennels/getting them ready
Taking care of ICU patients
Administering medications
Creating slides and looking at them under the microscope for parasites/infection
Preparing lab work for machines or to send to a lab
Giving lab reports to the doctor

Work Related Risks:
Exposure to radiation from x-rays (It's different from humans! They stay still when asked!)
Exposure to harmful chemicals/medications (Wear gloves if it says!!!)
Zoonotic diseases
Risk of being bitten
Risk of poking yourself with needles or other harmful instruments. (severe cases can cause infection)

On The Job Stories:
In training a girl was trying to get a blood draw from a pony and the pony did not want to listen. While fighting to restrain the pony the needle that had once been in the horse's neck went all the way through her palm causing a blood infection.

A family found a kitten on the side of the road that had lost half his left arm and his nostril was split into two. He was in extreme terror and pain, shortly after arriving he was euthanized.

The one story that makes everyone feel all warm and fuzzy inside is my story about The Faceless Kitten which you can watch below...

It's a rewarding career if you can take the challenge. People who go into the animal field do not go for the money they go for the reward of saving animal lives. A lot of veterinary technicians leave the field after an average of three years because of stressful work environment, low income, and a variety of other reasons.

Here are great posts by Vet Techs going into details of their jobs
(I would suggest to research in your area the pay because in my area it is lower then what they posted)

Here is another

Do your research!!! :)
© Faris Jaclyn I Littlest Pet Shop Photography

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