In praise of veterinary technicians
When your cat goes to the veterinary hospital, chances are she’s going to spend much more time with veterinary technicians or other veterinary staff members than with the veterinarian. Veterinary technicians are educated in the latest medical advances and skilled at working alongside veterinarians to give cats the best medical care possible.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, Inc. (NAVTA) has designated October 14 through 20 as National Veterinary Technician Week. “Technicians are an integral part of the pet healthcare team, and play an important role in veterinary care, to both the client and their pets,” said Catherine Holly, CVT, president of NAVTA. “It’s important that we take the time to celebrate technicians. Not only do they provide top-notch care to our pets, but also put in long hours as researchers, and are oftentimes specialized. We just want people to know how valuable technicians actually are.”
I don’t much care for the term ”technician” with its connotations of working on technical equipment or doing practical work in a laboratory. While vet techs are most definitely skilled professionals, they are so much more than that: they’re compassionate caregivers. They’re the ones who will go the extra mile to keep your hospitalized cat comfortable. They’re the ones who will sit with your cat while she recovers from anesthesia and surgery. They’re the ones who will treat your cat like she’s a member of their family.
I’ve had the privilege of working with some truly exceptional veterinary technicians in my years in the profession, and I learned from some of the best many years ago. I knew nothing about working in a hospital when I got my start. I will never forget a technician named Stacey, who took me under her wings and showed me the ropes. Another technician, Kelly, gave me an orange and a syringe to practice drawing blood. Our head technician Susan, one of the most dedicated technicians I ever worked with, got me over my apprehension over learning how to place IV catheters, and as a result of her tutelage, I actually got to be quite good at it and often became the “go to” person for tiny little cat veins.
I have a lot of respect for anyone who chooses this profession. Pay is low, the hours are long, and the work is often hard and dirty. But for dedicated veterinary technicians, the rewards of caring for the animals they love far outweigh the drawbacks.
So this week, honor the veterinary technicians who take care of your cat when she has to go to the veterinary hospital. As a former veterinary hospital manager, technician, assistant, kennel attendant, and receptionist (yes, I’ve done it all at one time or another), I can tell you that brownies and other treats are always appreciated as a token of your gratitude…
Do you have a story about how a veterinary technician helped your cat? Please share it in a comment.