In praise of veterinary technicians

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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.

 

11 Comments on In praise of veterinary technicians

  1. Rykerz Boyz 'n' Allie
    October 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm (7 years ago)

    We’d agree – RN feels like a better fit – and es, those jobs are unsung and rather thankless. Great post!

    Reply
  2. Karen
    October 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm (7 years ago)

    My hero is Conrad, the cat whisperer! He has been amazing with my special needs cat who tends to overreact to the smallest things being done to him at the vet. He is soft spoken and understanding and above all has such patience that I have never seen anywhere else. He makes both me and my cat at ease. I only made appointments on days he was working. Now having moved out of state, I so miss him.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm (7 years ago)

      Cat whisperer technicians have a special place in my heart, too, Karen.

      Reply
  3. sue brandes
    October 15, 2012 at 10:51 am (7 years ago)

    I have many times called just to ask a question about one of my kitties and they are so helpful. A lot of times they can tell me or ask the vet and get right back to me or even have the vet call if needs be. Also in Oct my kitty had to stay almost a week and ended up passing. They treated my kitty with so much love and care and went out of their way to make sure both me and my kitty were comfortable. They gave the best care and consern I could ever ask for. They were there for the both of us at the end. And they even sent me a pet card (with everyones signature at the vet)and my kitties paw prints on a postcard I could frame. I have never in all my years had this happen. It just shows how caring these people are.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm (7 years ago)

      I’m sorry about your kitty, Sue. It sounds like the staff at your vet clinic is wonderful.

      Reply
  4. Laura
    October 15, 2012 at 9:22 am (7 years ago)

    As a foster mom I deal with vet techs routinely at our SPCA. They are truly under paid, over worked and the unsung hero’s of the shelter. I bring them treats every time I visit because they are doing the job because they love animals–definitely not for the paycheck! I have learned so much from techs and will support them any way I can! Thanks for the great post!!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm (7 years ago)

      Thanks for supporting your vet techs, Laura – and for bringing them treats!

      Reply
  5. Caren Gittleman
    October 15, 2012 at 8:36 am (7 years ago)

    Ingrid, Kudos to YOU and to all in this fine and often unrecognized profession!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm (7 years ago)

      Thanks, Caren!

      Reply
  6. Ronnie
    October 15, 2012 at 8:19 am (7 years ago)

    I had to bring my Kitty to the vet hospital many times for care as she did have more than “9 lives.” So I had much interaction with the vet technicians. I learned of their YEARS (4 year Bachelor or 2 year Associate Degree) of needed education at college, supervised training, credentialing exam.. They said they are really RN’s . They have tried to change their title from”technician” to RN but the RN boards have fought this. They are extremely knowledgeable about animal anatomy, illness, procedures. operating room, meds…etc. In fact, some should be given the title of Nurse Practioner (NP)! Importantly, if their title was raised to RN, that would most likely be a reason to increase their pay. Praise for the veterinary technicians/RNs! And THANK YOU!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm (7 years ago)

      RN or NP definitely is a much better fit than technician for what vet techs actually do, Ronnie.

      Reply

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