The unsung heroes of the veterinary clinic

October 15 - 21st is National Veterinary Technician week. What better time to give a little insight into just what a veterinary technician does and why they are absolutely vital to your veterinarian in helping to provide the best care possible for your furbaby.

Walking into a veterinary office you have undoubtedly seen many professional staff, from the receptionists, to kennel attendants, assistants and veterinary technicians. Each of these staff members work in concert to make it possible for the veterinarians to diagnose, treat and care for a myriad of patients on any given day. The veterinary technician is the right hand of the veterinarian, often responsible for the majority of the treatments and diagnostic testing performed on each patient. Chances are, if your pet is in the hospital for any amount of time, most of that is spent in the arms, or sometimes the lap, of a veterinary technician.

So just what is a veterinary technician? A Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT for short) has completed at least a two year college program. Once complete, the technician must pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam and complete a course in professionalism and ethics. The technician is also required to participate in continuing education programs yearly to keep up with the ever changing veterinary medicine and technical training.

Essentially a Registered Veterinary Technician is a Veterinary Nurse. They are able to perform all of the same duties as a veterinarian except

1. Diagnose disease

2. Prescribe Medication

3. Determine prognosis

4. Perform surgery


This is an incredibly important job with huge responsibilities!

A typical day for an RVT includes obtaining samples for diagnostic testing and performing those diagnostic tests. Placing IV catheters and preparing pets for surgical procedures. Taking radiographs, changing bandages and administering medications to hospitalized patients. They are often responsible for speaking with clients regarding questions about their pets and providing education on a wide variety of topics.

The job of an RVT is not just mentally demanding, but physically as well. Lifting a 100lb dog on to an

x-ray table day in and day out can take its toll on the body. Not to mention that they often get bitten, scratched and clawed while restraining an animal or administering medication. Just ask any Veterinary Technician to show you their battle scars! There are many days that they are on their feet 10-12 hours a day, often with no lunch break, just grabbing something to eat on the fly in between patients.

By far the very best thing about a veterinary technician is their absolute love for their job. They form very strong bonds with their patients. They cry when they can't save a pet, or when they have to help a family say goodbye to their beloved furry family member. They celebrate when a treatment is successful and a pet gets to go back home to be with their family.

RVT's are a shoulder to lean on and an invaluable member of the medical team. Veterinarians absolutely could not do this job without them. The next time you are in your veterinarian's office, take a moment to thank your RVT for all the wonderful things that they do for you and your pet.

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