By Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Did you know that since 1993 the third week in October has been celebrated as National Veterinary Technician Week? This year we celebrate from Oct. 11-17.
Technicians are the nursing team that carries out the orders of the veterinarian and use their critical thinking skills in developing plans for nursing care of the animals in their charge.
Many do not know that to become a certified veterinary technician, one must attend a veterinary technology program for at least two years and then pass rigorous state and national licensing board exams. Once licensed, he or she is then required to take annual continuing education courses to keep up with new information and to keep skills current.
A typical veterinary technology education will include all of the basic science courses plus specific courses such as radiology, surgery, medicine, nutrition, and the study of infectious diseases. There are many topics to study because technicians have a wide range of duties.
They are expected to administer anesthesia and monitor surgical patients as well as draw blood samples and perform chemistry and blood count evaluations. They take radiographs and make sure that they have what the veterinarian needs to make a diagnosis.
The veterinary technician has learned about multiple species and is prepared to work on a variety of animals.
As much as technicians enjoy working with animals, they also have to enjoy their work with people. Commonly, the technicians are the ones doing a lot of client communication on wellness care. When pets will not eat a specific diet or take their medications in a reasonable manner, technicians can offer tips and advice on how to do things. They can also help owners provide basic socialization skills for their new puppies and kittens. They may recognize behavior issues and help them from becoming bigger problems.
As we approach this week to recognize veterinary technicians, take a minute to think of what these important people mean to the pets brought in for veterinary care. Often, they are the first to assess the patients, triage them, and gather the history. They provide the skilled nursing care pets need. They understand when pets and owners are nervous and do their best to make the environment as calming as possible.
During this special week, take a moment to recognize the technicians you know. They will appreciate it.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.