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Just a Technician, or the Pride of Veterinary Medicine?

Melissa J. Supernor, CVT, RVT, VTS (SAIM), VCA Westboro Animal Hospital, Westboro, Massachusetts

May 2014|Peer Reviewed

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When someone asks, Are you a veterinarian?, how do you respond? Do you say, with conviction and pride, I am a veterinary technician?  Or do you say, No, I’m just a technician...?

Ponder that for a moment. As I think about my more-than-20-year career in veterinary medicine, I admit that I have said these words: I am just a technician. Although I have always been proud of my chosen profession, I do not always show it. Today, as the profession evolves, we need to adjust our attitudes. We need to be proud of our expertise, passions, and goals and make others understand our contributions to the veterinary world.

Related Article: A New Veterinary Technician’s Survival Guide

We cannot expect others to respect our role in veterinary medicine if they don’t understand what we do. It is our job to educate.

“What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?”

We cannot expect others to respect our role in veterinary medicine if they don’t understand what we do. It is our job to educate—those in the general community and in the profession itself—about who we are and what we do. The next time you have a conversation and are asked, What do you do?, take time to respond:

A veterinary technician is an integral member of the veterinary team. We are the advocate for the clients and patients. We provide technical support to the veterinarian in all aspects of animal healthcare. We are educated to be the veterinarian’s surgical nurse, anesthetist, laboratory technician, radiography technician, and dental technician. We educate clients, maintain patient records, and order inventory, among many other duties.

Or, consider saying:

A veterinary technician is considered to be the nurse in animal healthcare, but we play an even broader role than that of a human medicine nurse. We work in radiology, in surgery, in examination rooms, and at the front desk. We work directly with clients, communicating patient health, providing education, and taking diagnostics. Basically, we do anything that the patient, client, and veterinarian needs or assigns. We work in general practices, specialty practices, corporation practices, industry, zoos, and aquariums; in education, research, and much more—the list goes on.

It is up to each veterinary technician to think about what—and why—you do what you do. But after figuring it out, the key is to remember the importance of educating others.

Related Article: Technician Rock Stars: How to Leverage Your Skills

Pay It Forward

I remember my excitement when I started my first job after graduation and could call myself an educated, credentialed veterinary technician. Now we veterans have a responsibility to help newcomers to the veterinary technician community succeed and take pride in our profession

For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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