Bailey was indeed a very special part of our family and knowing that he received such excellent care from such a wonderful group of people has made this difficult time for us more bearable.
This year, National Veterinary Technician Week is October 14-20, and in honor of that, we thought we’d explain a little about the ways to become a veterinary technician, the different terminology used by those in the field, and what the job entails.
Many people mistakenly refer to veterinary technicians as the “doctor’s assistant.” While at times this can be technically true, it is not fully accurate. For instance, “veterinary assistant” is a separate job title with separate job responsibilities. Additionally, while often a stepping stone to becoming a veterinary technician, it need not be.
There are a couple basic routes that individuals take to become a veterinary technician. For some, on-the-job training is the way to go. Often people who go this route begin working at a veterinary practice in the kennel or at the front desk, move up to become a veterinary assistant, and, eventually, hone their knowledge and skills and transition to the role of veterinary technician. Other individuals choose to take a more formal route. Many colleges offer veterinary technician programs (usually an associate’s degree, though some 4-year schools offer a bachelor’s degree, providing the student the title “veterinary technologist” instead); typically these programs offer standard lecture classes in combination with more practical laboratories and off-site externships, affording students the chance to practice the hands-on skills that are crucial to any veterinary professional:paying attention to the patient, looking for changes that can indicate something going wrong—or right, noticing trends, and synthesizing information from various sources, including owners, veterinarians, the technicians on the previous shift, teachers, and textbooks.
Veterinary technicians may be certified, licensed, or registered (CVT, LVT, and RVT respectively); all mean about the same thing—it just depends on what state a technician lives in. In Pennsylvania, we are certified veterinary technicians, for instance. Up until a couple of years ago, anyone could take the national licensing exam and add that often coveted word in front of their title. Now, however, sitting for the national exam requires a technician to be a graduate of an accredited veterinary technician school.
Adding more terminology to the mix is the fact that some veterinary technicians prefer to call themselves “nurses.”
Veterinary technicians can work in a variety of settings. They might choose to work in a large emergency and referral hospital like Hope Veterinary Specialists. This environment is often faster paced and higher stress; the hours are also less “standard,” as shifts around the clock must be covered. Or, technicians might choose to work at a small, private practice where they grow along with their patients and clients, ensuring pets are up to date on required shots, have preventative testing, and are generally happy and healthy. Other veterinary technicians might choose to work with large animals at facilities such as equine centers or dairy farms. Still others love the challenge of the laboratory environment, working with animals of all sizes. Opportunities may also exist with pharmaceutical and pet food companies.
No matter where they choose to work, veterinary technicians give their jobs their all. While certainly a positive trait, it can lead even the safest technician to not only bites, scratches, and back injuries but also to compassion fatigue. It’s important to keep in mind that the job is not all puppies and kittens. While there are some, days can be filled with aged (or even young) animals with a variety of health problems or with curious and energetic animals who have found their way into the path of oncoming vehicles—or other animals. Some technicians even see evidence of abuse. Also, euthanasia is a frequent, if not daily, occurrence.
But every technician entered the field as a result of their love for animals. Their primary goal is to keep each furry or scaled best friend at his or her best. So, if you see your favorite CVT, LVT, RVT, or technician this week, be sure to wish him or her a happy veterinary technician week! Your appreciation is the icing on the cake.
Hollywood, a 3-year old male castrated Abyssinian, came in to HVS for a day-long observation with Dr. Jennifer Bagshaw as a result of some minor neurological signs, but all throughout the visit, it was Hollywood who made everyone else feel better!
Hollywood is an extremely good looking cat, but it wasn’t so much his looks that got us hooked— it was his hugs. Whenever anyone knew showed up for her shift the day Hollywood stayed with us, someone already working inevitably said, “Have you been hugged by Hollywood yet?”
See, whenever anyone picked up Hollywood, he wrapped his front paws around that person’s neck and clung, just like a hug. Making this even sweeter is the fact that Hollywood would then take one of his paws and gently stroke the person’s hair!
All throughout the day, whenever anyone felt stressed or sad or just in the mood for some love, they paid a visit to Hollywood’s cage and took him out; Hollywood was always willing to oblige. Even Dr. Bagshaw got into the act, stopping by for a couple hugs throughout her busy day.
Hollywood’s owner was very pleased but not surprised by the news of Hollywood’s hugs and growing fan club. And, not at all surprising to us, she was unwilling to let us keep Hollywood as Hope VS’s unofficial therapy cat, though she did agree to stop with Hollywood for some hug sessions—though maybe for a small fee each!
We hope to see you again soon, Hollywood (for hugs only, that is)!
Interested in learning more about this breed? You can start at Petfinder.com for some basics: http://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/Abyssinian.
With kids back to school last month, you might be noticing something about your pet that you hadn’t expected. Is it possible he or she is experiencing back-to-school blues?
After spending months of long summer days with their pint-sized (or bigger!) best friends, dogs—and even cats—can get depressed. This might even be more true for companions of kids who have gone off to college.
Annd remember, if you are upset about a child’s departure—either for the day or for the semester—your pet will pick up on your feelings, too.
So, if you are noticing some recent-onset lethargy (or hyperactivity) in your pet, or even some vocalizing and mopey-ness, you might need to pay a little extra attention to your heartbroken furry friend. There are specific things you can do as well.
Exercise seems to be a good bet. As with people, exercise can stimulate endorphin release, and this can help improve mood.
Another step to take might be to provide your pet with an article of the child’s clothing, giving the animal a sense of comfort with a familiar scent.
(Similarly, clients whose pets need to stay at Hope Veterinary Specialists overnight often leave tee shirts or other items with them so they are surrounded by a familiar scent. This is fine with us, as long as you understand that with our huge laundry operation, should we need to wash your item, you may not ever see it again…)
As with so many other things, however, the answer to the problem is usually time. Give your dog or cat a bit to adjust to the new situation, and he or she will be just fine—and back to his or her self in no time!
Dog reading image from:
While two years old, it’s never too late to spread the word about Fluffy’s Blankets. The following is a press release from Penn State University (Cooperative Extension in Chester County), originally sent out on May 10, 2010.
West Chester, PA: May 10, 2010 – When a pet is sick, both the animal and the owner suffer discomfort, stress, and anxiety. A local group has created a novel program for providing comfort to pet owners and their beloved pets. Fluffy’s Blankets is a cooperative effort, sponsored by Friends Home in Kennett, the Girl Scouts of Eastern PA, and 4-H Creating Community Networks of Chester County Extension. It provides donated blankets and emotional
support to pet owners with sick or injured animals.
“Fluffy’s Blankets is a community-inclusive project that involves all ages,” says Laurie Szoke, Extension Educator for 4-H Creating Community Networks, and a pet owner herself. “When one of my dogs was seriously injured, I saw the toll it took on me and realized that there was a need to support pet owners during difficult times.” Szoke found that comforting her dog in a blanket reassured her pet and quieted her own anxiety, which led to the idea for Fluffy’s Blankets. She approached several community leaders and found they were receptive to the idea.
The program is gaining momentum and earning attention from individuals and organizations that see an opportunity to help their community in a direct way. Dr. James Beach of Walnut Hill Veterinary Clinic in Avondale has agreed to serve as the Veterinary Medicine partner.
A Fluffy’s Blanket gift includes two blankets, a heating pad (seasonal), comfort food, gift coupon for a treat/cup of coffee at a local business and a personalized card from the giver to the recipient.
Sponsors are needed for heating pads and “coffee/tea/treat” coupons from local businesses. To learn more about how you can become involved in Fluffy’s Blankets as a donor or recipient, contact Patrice Bradour at 610-444-2577 ext. 212, or Laurie Szoke at 610-696-3500.
Veterinary Technician Specialists
Credentialed veterinary technicians who want to expand their knowledge may choose to become a specialist. A vet tech specialist designation (VTS) requires a huge amount of work on the part of the technician and can include such things as logging thousands of clinical hours, organizing and submitting detailed case logs, and passing rigorous exams.
Hope Veterinary Specialists is proud to boast we have four vet tech specialists at our referral hospital with a few others in the works. Word is out that we have developed a great mentor program for other nurses in the area to gain their critical care experience with us and apply for this certification. We weren’t surprised by this piece of information: we’ve known all along we are home to the most dedicated and experienced nurses around!
Technicians who choose to specialize have many options to choose from (thanks to http://www.navta.net/index.php?section=specialties&page=specialties for the list):
- The Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists
- The Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians
- The Academy of Equine Veterinary Nursing Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Clinical Practice
- The Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technicians
Recently, another of our Emergency Services nurses, Samantha Frabizzio, earned the designation of specialist from the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians after successfully submitting all required documentation and passing the exam. She joins the following staff members, who had previously earned this impressive title:
Brandy Terry, CVT (VTS, ECC)
Caryn McCleary, CVT (VTS, ECC)
Rachel Keyser, CVT (VTS, ECC)
Hope Veterinary Specialists strives to provide you and your pet with the best possible service, and if you’ve ever had the opportunity to interact with any our nurses, you know they are all compassionate, caring, and knowledgeable individuals. The VTS designation is that something extra that helps our nurses, and our hospital, stand out from the crowd!