Want to know what it’s like to be a veterinary technician?
October is Registered Veterinary Technician’s month across Canada. So, I thought this month I would dedicate my blog to highlighting the wonderful and important jobs that our talented Veterinary Technician’s do every day. Missy, Krissie, Alexa, Vanessa, Rebecca, Meghan, Rosie and Stephanie, thanks for everything you do!
Yesterday Krissie looked up at me from her position on the floor, covered in sticky white barium that she was syringing into a dog’s mouth, and said "Do you know that some people dress in nice clothes and nice shoes and go to work and sit at a desk?”
A few days before that, I sat in somebody’s home on a housecall and marveled at how Missy had managed to pack everything I needed into our little housecall kit, even though the call turned from what was supposed to be a euthanasia into diagnosing and treating a 23 year old kitty instead. We proceeded to collect blood and urine on a kitchen table…just another day in the life of a veterinary technician!
Registered Veterinary Technicians, or RVTs, *might* be most easily described as veterinary nurses…but not. They are the "behind-the-scenes heros” of a veterinary hospital. The job is a pretty far cry from a desk job! It can be dirty, stressful, dangerous, fast-paced and incredibly emotional. But every day is different, and can also be filled with joy, gratitude, and reward. They live their days covered in hair and slobber (at best), fighting the constant threat of bites and scratches and dodging the long tongues of exuberant dogs with horrible breath.
The technicians at Gateway Pet Hospital are the first person into every appointment, checking the animal’s vital signs and collecting information on them. They collect blood, put in IV catheters, medicate and care for hospitalized patients. They place patients under anesthesia, intubate them, and monitor them. They ensure that surgery patients are comfortable and free from pain. They also play the role of hygienist, cleaning the pet’s teeth with special equipment. They take x-rays, run blood and urine tests, and perform ear treatments, nail trims and booster vaccinations. They help council people through the euthanasia and death process. They call for updates on patient’s progress and answer questions and book appointments. They restock medications, fill prescriptions and offer nutritional advice. They clean and organize and boss the vets around a bit too! They often take abuse from upset or emotional individuals regarding something that was totally out of their control. Ok, ok, it’s true, they do also get to cuddle puppies and kittens.
I have peace of mind, concentrating on a surgery, when I hear Rebecca say "the blood pressure is trending a little low, I am going to lighten up the anesthetic a little and bolus some fluids”. She busily tends to my surgery patient, ensuring that he is comfortable, stable and warm, never leaving his side and never ceasing her diligent watch on his anesthesia.
I know what you are thinking…what the heck do the vets do then??? Ha ha, no seriously…
Some of the technicians at Gateway have specific rolls. Vanessa has gone through extra training to be certified in "Fear Free” training to make changes in our hospital that will help make the experience of coming to the vet more enjoyable and less stressful for pets. Rebecca has trained in nutrition and runs our weight loss programs. Alexa is our office manager, handling protocols, inventory, scheduling and much more. Meghan takes care of our social media and website and writes some of the blogs for our webpage. Missy has a special interest in Anesthesia. Krissie keeps us organized and running smoothly and has a special interest in dermatology. Stephanie is our Customer Service Specialist and handles phone calls and estimates. Rosie has a whole other job and still dedicates many of her weekends to us!
On a more serious note, take the time to love and give credit to your veterinary technician. This is not an easy job. The emotional stress and strain shouldered by people in the veterinary profession is an important issue and is by no means isolated to veterinarians. We want to thank the Registered Veterinary Technicians at Gateway Pet Hospital and tell them we are very proud of how strong, competent and enthusiastic they are. We could not do our jobs without you!