Veterinary technicians play an important part in looking after your pets while they're at the veterinary hospital. There is an initiative underway to change their name from veterinary technician to veterinary nurse, which is what they're called in the United Kingdom and Australia. What exactly does a vet tech do and is it in line with what we expect of a nurse?
It's not easy to become a credentialed technician. Before you can use the title, you must have studied for two to four years and have passed a national examination. You will then work under the supervision of a licensed vet and, indeed, you'll be responsible for many of the tasks that a human doctor would expect of their nurse.
On an average day as a vet tech, you'll be expected to obtain a patient's medical history and measure their vital signs in preparation for the veterinarian's examination. You'll also perform laboratory tests and take x-rays, as well as monitor pets while they're under general anaesthesia. After surgery, you'll be involved in caring for the pets as they recover and if needed, provide specialized intensive care. When it's time for patients to be discharged, your role is then to explain worried pet parents what has happened to their beloved pet and how to care for them when they return home. It's a busy, challenging, and exciting role and provides a great deal of job satisfaction.
There is a big difference between the role of a veterinary technician and that of a veterinary assistant. Although there are training courses for assistants, they're not necessary and there is no credentialing examination for this work. Many assistants receive their training on the job and are taught by the staff at the clinic they work in.
The tasks assigned to veterinary assistants are much less technical. These staff members will be involved in keeping the clinic and hospital kennels clean. They'll feed and exercise patients as well as help the vets and technicians in their day-to-day tasks.
It's fair to say that a veterinary technician will spend most of their day performing tasks similar to that of a human nurse. It's therefore appropriate that the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America is evaluating the use of the title "veterinary nurse."
There are advantages to this name change. At the moment, the states have different continuing education requirements when it comes to maintaining credentials, as well as different titles for their technicians, including certified technician and licensed veterinary technician. This can be confusing to pet parents and it's thought that by including all credentialed technicians under one title, it will be easy to recognize their qualifications. There is also an implied sense of caring and trust that is associated with the title "nurse."
The suggestion of a name change is being positively received by veterinary technicians and it's expected that it will take many years to unite all states under one set of training and credentialing guidelines. In the meantime, pet parents can take comfort in the knowledge that when their much-loved furry companions are being cared for by a veterinary technician, they're in very good hands.