Since the start of this new millennium, there have been many technological advances in the veterinary medicine field. In fact, the pace of these advances has been rather quick, leading to more reliable, competent care to both domesticated and non-domesticated animals.
To do their job right, veterinarians must have veterinary technologists (vet techs) who have both the knowledge and skills that can help them meet the demands of both pet owners and animal caretakers and provide high quality care. Vet techs are very important to a veterinary health care team, playing several parts including:
- Providing animal care
- Protecting human health (for those people who are in constant contact with animals)
Vet techs help and work in close conjunction with veterinarians in their private clinics or hospitals to offer and encourage animal health care; this is similar to nurses helping doctors take care of patients on a regular basis.
There are many tasks a vet tech is supposed to do, all under the supervision of the veterinarian. These tasks include:
- Collecting urine, blood and tissue samples
- Perform diagnostic tests such as radiology tests that will allow veterinarians to make a positive diagnosis
- Execute several laboratory exams like blood counts
- Prepare surgical equipment and other tools
- Give patient care before and after surgery
- Do dental prophylaxes
- Keep an eye on anesthesia
- Assist vet during the surgery
- Providing long-term care instructions to educate owners about good animal health
While vet techs have plenty of duties on their list, they are not allowed to do two things:
- Make diagnosis
- Order medication
Vet techs also have the option to work in research facilities under veterinarians, doctors and lab technologists’ supervision and guidance. On top of the tasks they have at veterinary hospitals/clinics, vet techs must help with implementing research projects by giving humane care when handling animals. They must:
- Administer veterinarian prescribed medication
- Prep lab samples
- Record noteworthy information
If a person is looking to become a successful veterinary technologist, they need the right education and training. This is done by enrolling in an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited vet tech program. There are two kinds of degree programs that they must do before being employed in this profession. They are:
- Associate degree – two years in vet tech program
- Bachelor degree – four years in vet tech program
The majority of vet tech schools will accept a high school diploma or a certificate to allow enrollment into the above programs. Regardless of what program the student is in, live animals are used in clinical and laboratory settings. For those associate degree classes, programs generally have general subjects and animal management through clinical sections.
However, four-year vet tech bachelor programs will focus mainly on general education classes. During the second and third years, they can obtain their associate’s degree upon successful completion of the credits. In the fourth year, students will need to do advanced vet tech courses, externship hours and clinical rotations before being given their Bachelor of Science degree.
There have been cases in which persons with no veterinary technology degree have worked as vet techs; however, career opportunities are limited to them. If a person doesn’t want to be limited in what they can do and make, they should apply to an accredited school to earn themselves an associate or bachelor’s degree in the veterinary technology field.