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What is a Veterinary Technician?

By: Margi Sirois

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Quality veterinary care requires a team of specially educated and trained individuals. Veterinarians are the leaders of that team of specially trained workers, but veterinary technicians play a vital role on the veterinary health care team, too. There are a great number of tasks that must be accomplished in a veterinary hospital. Usually, those tasks that don't require a veterinary license are delegated to a staff member.

Graduates of American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited college programs in veterinary technology are called "veterinary technicians." Graduate veterinary technicians can take the national examination for veterinary technicians and become certified, licensed or registered in their state.

Veterinary technicians are skilled in anesthesia, surgical assistance, pharmacology, veterinary nursing, laboratory techniques, radiology, dentistry and much more. The veterinary technician always works under the direct supervision of the veterinarian and are prohibited from diagnosing diseases, prescribing medicine and performing surgery.

Private Pet Practice

Most graduate veterinary technicians work in private, small animal practices. The specific duties of the veterinary technician vary depending on the size and type of practice as well as the laws of the state. A small animal practice that employs only one or two veterinarians may also require the veterinary technician to perform receptionist and office management duties.

In larger small animal practices, veterinary technicians may perform physical examinations on patients, prepare animals and equipment for surgery and take radiographs. They may also clean and polish teeth, collect blood samples, perform laboratory tests, anesthetize animals and administer prescribed medical treatments.

The veterinary technician is usually responsible for educating clients and for supervising other staff members. Providing nutritional information and animal training advice is an important part of the work a technician does with clients. The technician plays a vital role in helping to identify the needs of the client and in ensuring that the client receives the services he desires.

Veterinary Technician Specialist

Some veterinary technicians choose to become specialists. Most of these specialty areas require additional training, which may be in the form of seminars or other short-term programs, following graduation. Some training may be completed on the job with a veterinarian specializing in the technician's field of interest. These specialty areas include advanced veterinary dentistry, emergency and critical care nursing, veterinary anesthesia and zoo veterinary technology. Veterinary technician specialists may work in a small animal practice or at a specialty clinic.

An Exciting Job

Veterinary health care is an exciting and constantly changing field. Veterinary technicians play an essential role in nurturing and caring for animals while providing valuable services to their owners. So the next time you visit your veterinarian's office thank the veterinary technicians – they truly make the difference in the quality of veterinary care your pet receives.

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