Contributed by Rebecca Lange, Veterinary Technology Program Chair, Globe University – Appleton
I could give you the technical definition of what a Veterinary Technician does, but what would the fun be in that? I want to tell what a Vet Tech really does…
Veterinary Technicians are often the unsung heroes in the Veterinary Clinic even though we play a very large part in taking care of the patients. When I tell people I am a Veterinary Technician I often times either hear, “That must be so cool to work with animals everyday”, or “I don’t know how you can do that job.” It is true, I have seen some of the most heartwarming and also heartbreaking situations you can imagine and sometimes both in the same day. One patient can be so happy to see me that my face is covered in kisses. The next patient may have other plans for me and I have the scars to prove it!! I have to be able to clean up anything (and I mean anything) without blinking an eye even as I plan lunch with my co-workers. Without time for a break I have even had to eat my yogurt with a tongue depressor as I ran a fecal test for parasites.
As I fight back tears myself, I have to be able to console a grieving owner that just put their beloved pet to sleep. Sometimes it is the same pet that I have seen grow up from a puppy or kitten. It may be a pet I have gotten attached to as I took care of her in the ICU for the past week. I have to look an owner firmly in the eye and convince them why it isn’t “cute” to let their 8 week old puppy (which will someday be close to 100 pounds) play bite. At the same time I am probably allowing the same cute puppy to lick and chew on my chin.
I have to be the voice for my patients because they cannot speak. When they are in my care, it is my responsibility to make sure they are pain free, that they are not scared, and that they are clean and comfortable. I have to care for the growling dog and hissing cat with as much care and compassion as the tail wagging dog and purring cat. Even though my schedule says 8-5, there are days I cannot leave at 5. There are often times an emergency C-section or an intestinal foreign body that cannot wait until tomorrow for surgery.
I have to love the math and science of it all! If I do not understand how the liver and kidneys work, I cannot administer and monitor anesthesia properly. If I make an incorrect math calculation, I can jeopardize an animal’s life. I need to be a mind reader and know what the Veterinarian wants before they do. It is my job to be their right hand and provide the best care for our patients. We work as a team collecting data and information to figure out what is ailing those in our care and then to try and fix them.
Do I love my job? YES! I get to be a nurse, an anesthesiologist, an x-ray technician, a dental hygienist, a surgical assistant, a pharmacy technician, andmore. I never have a boring day and there are few emotional ailments that cannot be cured by a sloppy kiss to the face or a kitten swatting at your hair. To make it even better, I now get to teach others to be Vet Techs so that they get to enjoy this life as well!